When Dating Turns Violent

You've met someone you like a lot, and you're thrilled that he or she seems to care about you, too. You start dating. At first, you're flattered that your partner takes an interest in everything about you — what you're doing, who you're with, how you dress, what you eat. Before long, you can't make a move without risking remarks from your date. You're scrutinized, insulted, blamed, even threatened. Is this love?

Abusive relationships have nothing to do with love, and everything to do with control. The abuser seeks to become lord and master of the victim. Too often, the victim mistakes the attention for devoted interest. After all, the passion and energy in the abuser's behavior must mean he or she is wild about the other person!

Studies and statistics reveal a less romantic take on such overpowering emotions.

  • 20% of teenage girls and young women have experienced some form of dating violence. (National Center for Victims of Crime)

  • 40% of girls age 14-17 report knowing someone within their age group who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend. (Children Now/Kaiser Permanente poll)

  • A survey of 500 young women, ages 15-24, found that 60 percent were currently involved in an ongoing abusive relationship and every participant had experienced violence in a dating relationship.

  • Females ages 16-24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group — at a rate almost triple the national average. (U.S. Department of Justice)

  • In 92% of all domestic violence incidents, crimes are committed by men against women. (U.S. Department of Justice)

  • Studies show that 1 in 4 women will be abused in their lifetime.

Freeing yourself from an oppressive relationship calls for recognizing the abuse (before it worsens) and having the courage to say good-bye — once and for all.

Here are some red flags to watch for in your relationships. If you experience anything that matches up with one or more of these signs, pack up your pride and get out of harm's way!

  • Does your date say mean or insulting things to you in public?

  • Is your partner jealous of your friendships with other guys or girls?

  • Are you expected to report everywhere you go and everything you do?

  • Does your date have temper tantrums?

  • Do disagreements blow up into arguments?

  • Is the threat of breaking up a common theme in your fights?

  • Has an argument ever gotten so out of hand that something was thrown, slamme