The DOVES Program wants you to recognize what abuse is, learn how you can create healthy boundaries and, when you need to, know how to walk away safely from an unhealthy relationship. Many people, teens and adults alike, believe that abuse starts with a punch or slap. In order to fully understand whether or not you're in an abusive relationship, you need to know that abuse can be emotional, verbal, or sexual as well as physical.
What does an abusive relationship look like?
Emotional abuse: This type of abuse can sometimes be hard to spot. Your boyfriend might say that he’s only telling you something hurtful for your own good. Your girlfriend might insist that she wants you to change who you are so that you’ll be more popular or acceptable to her friends. Abusers will try to hide their manipulation in
a mask of love and concern, but when someone loves
and respects you, they accept you as you are.
Abusive partners may try to limit your time with your friends and family claiming, “I want to spend all my time with you because I love you so much.” It’s normal to want to be with the person you love, but when you feel like you have to be with them or they will be upset or jealous, it’s time to rethink your relationship.
It’s hard work sharing your life with another person and arguments are bound to crop up between even the most affectionate couples. When your partner ignores you rather than talks, withholds affection from you because he’s mad or she’s hurt, breaks promises constantly, or brings up past events in order to “win” the current argument, he or she isn’t communicating in a healthy way. If your partner constantly uses these tactics every time you fight, if you are frightened or afraid to talk about your feelings during an argument, or if you feel belittled and unimportant, it’s time to get some help.
Verbal abuse: Sticks and stones may break your bones….but words can really hurt you. As you know, being called names is painful. When it’s someone you love doing the insulting, it can be awful. Any time someone constantly puts you down, calls you names, tells you what to do, threatens you, or even accuses you of wrongdoing, it’s abuse. Abuse is a pattern of behavior that occurs over a period of time. If you feel like you’re on a roller coaster ride--careening wildly from beautiful moments to awful ones--you may want to take a step back and consider if your relationship is a healthy one.
Sexual abuse: We all know that rape is a crime. But did you know that if your partner pressures you into a sexual situation that you don’t want, it’s also considered sexual abuse? It doesn’t matter what type of relationship you have, either. If you are sexually active with your partner and then your partner forces you into sex, it’s still considered sexual assault. Any time your partner tries to humiliate you into performing a sex act you don’t want to do, if they refuse to wear a condom even though you want one, or if they accuse you of being frigid, unfaithful, or promiscuous in order to coerce you into sex, it’s considered sexual abuse.
When you’re in a new relationship, it might be hard to talk openly about what you want--especially when it comes to sex. It’s really important that you learn how to set healthy boundaries so you can have a great relationship. Tell your partner what you want and be clear with them what you don’t want. If you want to kiss, say so. If you don’t want there to be any touching below the waist, you need to talk about it. If your partner goes over the line, say no and be clear. If your partner says no, respect it. Sometimes you might be unsure about how far your partner wants to go. If you are unsure--STOP. ASK. RESPECT the ANSWER.
Physical abuse: A slap on the cheek. A punch in the belly. A kick. A shove. Most of us would think of these things as physical abuse and they are. But don't forget that driving too fast or dangerously, biting, burning, poking, pulling hair, breaking things, or throwing things at someone are also considered physical abuse.
It can be scary to have someone slam a fist into the wall beside your head. No, you weren’t actually hit but the person doing the punching wanted to scare you. They wanted to show you how strong they are and show you what could happen next time. Anytime someone gets physical with you in a way that scares you, frightens or intimidates you, they are being abusive. Please find help.
If you think you’re in an abusive relationship, or if you think a friend might need help, please contact us to speak with an advocate about what options are available. If you are in an immediate emergency, please call 911.
Dating violence: Early warning signs
(Don't even think about talking to your friends.)
(You're a belonging. Like an iPod. Or a shoe.)
(You'd better do it ... or else.)
Lies and Broken Promises:
(I'm so sorry, it' won't happen again. I promise. Again.)
Happy One Minute, Mad the Next:
(You're wonderful ... What the hell are you smiling about?!)
Falls in Love Quickly:
(You're my soul-mate ... Even though I've only known you for like, five minutes.)
It's Your Fault, Not Mine:
(What's your fault? Every. Single. Thing.)
Are you abusive?
Are you worried you might be abusive? Maybe your ex told you they didn't like how you told them what to do. Perhaps your ex told one of their friends that they are afraid of you. We're glad you're looking for answers. Ask yourself the questions below:
Do you call your partner names?
Do you monitor what they wear?
Do you feel jealous or angry when they spend time with friends or family members?
Do you stop your partner from leaving the room during an argument either by force or blocking the exit?
Do you call or text your partner a lot? Do you feel angry, jealous, or upset if they don't answer you immediately?
Do you invade your partner's personal space during an argument?
Do you monitor your partner's calls, texts, emails, etc?
Do you use force or guilt to make your partner have sex with you?
Do you feel that you have a right or a need to know where your partner is or what they are doing most of the time?
Do you ever make threats of harm toward your partner, their family or friends?
Do you ever threaten to commit suicide if they leave you?
Do you take your partner's money or tell them how to spend it?
Do you discourage your partner from spending time with friends or family members?
If you answered yes to any of the questions, you could be abusive. If you’d like to discuss these questions or any other concerns regarding healthy relationships, abuse of any sort, or how to stop abusive behavior, then contact us and speak with an advocate at 866-953-6837.
Dating abuse facts
1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked, or physically hurt by his or her partner.
1 in 5 teens involved in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.
1 in 3 teenage girls who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.
1 in 4 teens involved in a serious relationship say that a boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family; the same number have been pressured to only spend time with their partner.
60% of students experience an abusive dating relationship by high school graduation.
1 in 3 girls between the ages of 16 and 18 say sex is expected for people their age in a relationship; half of teen girls who have experienced sexual pressure report they are afraid the relationship would end if they did not give in.
Young women ages 20 to 24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, followed by those 16 to 19.
People ages 18 and 19 experience the highest rates of stalking.
Nearly 1 in 4 girls who have been in a relationship (23%) reported going further sexually than they wanted to as a result of pressure.
Teen victims of physical dating violence are more likely than their non-abused peers to smoke, use drugs, engage in unhealthy diet behaviors (taking diet pills or laxatives and vomiting to lost weight), engage in risky sexual behaviors, and attempt or consider suicide.
If you or someone you know has experienced any of the abuse mentioned above, please contact us to speak with an advocate. If you are in an emergency, please call 911.
Who can I talk to about this?
Over time, you may find that you’ve been distanced from friends, family, and the other people in your life. Isolation plays a very important role in an abusive relationship because it allows abusers to have additional control over their partners. By limiting your social and support systems, abusers can ensure that you will have few (if any) resources to count on should you decide to leave the relationship. This sort of isolation may make you feel more uncomfortable with the idea of talking about your situation with others because trust and loyalties may seem broken. However, you may be surprised to know that there are resources and caring people available to help you through these difficult circumstances.
Everyone handles abusive relationships in their own way but know that you don’t have to endure it alone. Tell a friend or a family member that you feel comfortable with. If you're reluctant to contact someone so personally involved in your life, then try talking about it with a teacher, a faith leader, or a counselor in your community. The DOVES Program is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you are encouraged to contact us in order to speak confidentially with one of our advocates.