Teen Dating: Violence Can Happen: Understanding the 3 Cs in a Healthy Relationship
There are young people across the world who are currently in abusive relationships and don’t know what to do about it. What does teen dating violence look like and who is it happening to? Teen dating violence is physical, sexual, psychological and/or emotional violence, including the act of stalking. It can take place in person or electronically. According to a nationwide survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 23% of females and 14% of males who ever experienced rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age. Also, 10% of youth – in some communities over 30% – reported experiencing some form of dating violence in the past year.
Warning Signs of an Unhealthy or Potentially Dangerous Relationship
Violence, itself, is related to certain risk factors such as being angry, depressed, anxious, suicidal, having an alcohol or drug addiction, experiencing some sort of mental or physical trauma, and witnessing or experiencing violence in the home and believing that it is an acceptable way of behaving in a relationship.
There are many individuals in an abusive relationship and don’t know how to safely get out of it. In order to understand the warning signs of a potentially abusive relationship, it is important to identify what I’d like to refer to as the “Big Three Cs” in a healthy relationship that every person should have as a core foundation in their relationship. Identifying these three essential attributes is a good starting point as an indicator to whether a relationship is headed in the right direction or not.
Dr. Doug’s 3 Cs to a Healthy Relationship
1. Communication: In a healthy relationship, both individuals should be able to openly and honestly express their feelings without a fear of being scolded verbally, made to feel guilty, or physically abused.
2. Compromise: Disagreements are a natural part of a relationship and agreeing to disagree is essential in maintaining a healthy one. It is important to find a common ground or compromise in a rational way with the goal to solve the problem or resolve the conflict harmoniously, without it getting personal.
3. Care: Displaying care is about being respectful of the wishes and feelings of the other person. Showing compassion, being supportive of a partner’s needs, and offering reassurance and encouragement to build the person up, rather than put him/her down, are all signs of a healthy relationship. Care is also about respecting each other’s privacy and space. Healthy relationships require boundaries and space and establishing them is a great way to keep your relationship healthy and secure.
Warning Signs a Parent Should Look for in Their Children
As a parent, look to see if your child’s grades are slipping, or if they appear increasingly sad, anxious, frequently crying, or having to respond immediately to a call or text. Furthermore, if you see a drastic negative shift in behavior or attitude take place since your child has entered into the relationship, then that is a red flag that he/she may be headed down a Road to an unhealthy relationship. If you see that your child is making excuses for the other person’s poor behavior, engaging in more risky behaviors, or appeared more outgoing and involved with family, friends, school activities before dating than he/she does now, then it’s time to sit down with your child and talk about their relationship..
If you are looking for a conversational starter with your children, try prompting them to self-reject about their relationship by asking the following questions:
- Do you feel like you can be yourself or are you walking on egg shells trying to please the other person to make him/her happy?
- Are you saying or doing things to prevent the person from reacting in a negative manner?
- Do you feel like the other person in the relationship blames you for everything that goes wrong?
- Does he/she insult or put you down for different things?
- Does he/she tell you what to do and try to control your actions, such as who you see, what you do, and when you do it?
- Do you feel pressured into doing something you really don’t want to do?
- Are you afraid of him/her having temper tantrums or becoming possessive?
- Have you tried to talk with him/her about serious matters and he/she is unwilling to listen to what you have to say, gets upset, or makes you feel guilty for what you have to say?
- Are you laughing often, having fun, and truly happy in the relationship?
- Are you afraid to end the relationship because you fear what he/she may do?
It’s not always easy to talk with friends or family members about dating abuse and healthy relationships, but it’s important because through open communication, a person is better able to establish support systems, which can help a person extricate themselves from an abusive relationship successfully. If you, your child, or someone you know is involved in a violent or abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). There are also websites that people can go for help such as: www.corasupport.org, www.endabusewi.org, www.breakthecycle.org
Douglas Haddad is a public school teacher, nutritionist and the author of parenting/child guidance book Save Your Kids…Now ! The Revolutionary Guide To Helping Youth Conquer Today’s Challenges and co-author of Top Ten Tips For Tip Top Shape: Super Health Programs For A ll Professional Fields. www.Doughaddad.com
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This post originally appeared on our March/April 2016 Magazine