Are You in an Abusive Relationship?
Early warning signs of an abusive relationship are:
- Your partner pressures you, soon after you begin dating, to make the relationship very serious (i.e. wants to spend all his/her time with you) or pressures you to engage in sex when you are not ready.
- Your partner becomes extremely jealous and possessive, and thinks and/or tells you that these are signs of his/her love for you.
- Your partner tries to control you and forcefully make all decisions where the two of you are concerned, refusing to take your views and/or desires seriously. He/she may also try to keep you from spending time with close friends and/or family.
- Your partner verbally and emotionally abuses you by doing such things like humiliating you in front of your friends, yelling at you, swearing at you, manipulating you, spreading false or degrading rumors about you, and trying to make you feel guilty.
- Your partner drinks too much and/or uses drugs and then later blames the alcohol and/or drugs for his/her behavior.
- Your partner threatens physical violence.
- Your partner has abused a previous partner or accepts and defends the use of violence by others.
- Your relationship makes you feel uncomfortable, tense, awkward, and/or frightened.
If you are in a violent, or potentially violent relationship, take the following steps:
Make a safety plan and get help. Talk with someone you trust-a teacher, a guidance counselor, a friend, parent, and/or someone at HATCH. You may also want to contact the police or a local Domestic Violence Center, such as the Montrose Center or LGBT Switchboard 713-529-3211.
If you want to stay in the relationship, realize that the violence will not just stop or go away. You cannot change your partner’s behavior by changing the way you act, nor are you in anyway responsible for the abuse. Your partner may need counseling or other outside help to change, and you may need support so that you can begin to heal.
Always remember: You have the right to live your life free from abuse. No one has the right to tell you how you should behave, dress, what you can and cannot do, and what kind of friends you have. You have the right to say NO!
Are You an Abuser?
Take this quiz to find out:
- You and your partner have plans to go out, but your partner calls you and tells you that he/she has to go to his/her family reunion and cannot make the date. You:
- Get angry and call him/her names and threaten to break up.
- Tell him/her that you understand and make plans to go out another time.
- Get upset, hang up the phone and then call your best friend and complain about him/her.
- Sit outside your partner’s house to make sure that he/she is actually going to the reunion.
- You are hanging out at Hatch Youth and look over to see your partner hug another person of the same-sex. You:
- Walk up to your partner and grab his/her hand pull him/her away and “jokingly” call him/her a “whore.”
- Notice the hug but shrug it off because you know that they have been friends for years.
- Notice the hug and decide that there is something going on between the two of them. You will talk to him/her later about not disrespecting you if front of everyone.
- Wait until you leave Hatch, yell at your partner on the way home, accuse him/her of cheating on you and pinch him/her on the arm to get your point across.
- Your partner arrives for your date wearing an outfit that you would never be caught dead in, and you two are going out in public. You:
- Tell your partner that you “will under no uncertain terms be caught dead with him/her wearing that,” and give him or her something of yours that meets with your approval.
- Giggle to yourself and go out with him/her.
- Wait until you get where you are going and then make fun of your partner to all of your friends.
- Tell your partner that you did not approve of his/her outfit; refuse to go with your partner, even when the person says he/she will change, and accuse him/her of ruining your evening.
- You and your partner are drinking coffee at a local coffee shop. Your partner accidentally bumps his/her cup and the hot coffee spills in your lap. You:
- Jump up, wipe yourself off and call him/her “an idiot, who does not think.”
- Jump up, wipe yourself off, let him/her apologize and accept the apology.
- Jump up, wipe yourself off, sit back down calmly and tell your partner that you will talk about this later, all the while coming up with ways to make him/her feel guilty later.
- Jump up, wipe yourself off, take your cup and pour it on your partner while berating him/her for being clumsy.
- You and your partner have been dating for two weeks and have seen each other 5 times. You want to become intimate but your partner says he/she is not ready. You:
- Pout to yourself and then call a friend and tell him/her that your partner is a prude.
- You tell your partner that you will wait until she or he feels comfortable and that he/she should just let you know when he/she is ready.
- You tell your partner that it is obvious to you that he/she does not care about you because if she/he did she/he would be ready.
- You tell your partner that you cannot be with someone who is not sexually ready; that you have needs and that you will find satisfaction elsewhere unless he/she sleeps with you.
If you had:
All to Mostly A’s: You behave as most people do in relationships; by expressing your ideas about your partner in joking and/or demeaning ways. Everyone has been guilty of this is his/her relationship. Sometimes things like this just come out but that does not mean that it is not hurtful to your partner and possibly destructive in your relationship. Everyone makes mistakes. If you find yourself doing this, try to pay more attention to how you say things and apologize when you realize that you have demeaned your partner.
All to Mostly B’s: You are very respectful and allow your companions to be themselves. If you find that you have slipped up and have hurt your partner’s feelings, remember to apologize. You are generally a very respectful person and with that knowing how to say you are sorry is important.
All to Mostly C’s: Your relationship is not as happy as it could be and that is probably because of you and your lack of respect for your partner. It is advised that you use a self-discovery activity to find out why you use guilt, shame, and humiliation to get your partner to do what you want. A good activity is to journal about what you witnessed your parents/caregivers do to each other and you as you were growing up.
All to Mostly D’s: You are being abusive and you have to stop or your partner will leave you and every partner from then on will leave you as well. It is advised that you seek counseling and ask for help from a trusted adult. This is not just the way you are and you are not entitled to hurt other people, even if you have been hurt in the past. You also have the right to live a happy and productive life, free from abuse. You are not a bad person, being abusive is a bad behavior and you can make it stop.
TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Ever feel a spark when you first meet someone and they smile at you in that “special” way, the way that tells you that they like you? Maybe you hang out a few times and decide that you two should take it further and you begin dating. Dating is FUN! Thinking about the person while taking a history test is fun. Falling asleep at night thinking about them is fun. Getting 30 text messages a day is fun.
Unfortunately for many teens, this beginning stage of fun and contentment has turned into a nightmare – one filled with loneliness, anger, isolation from family and friends, secrecy, lowered self-esteem, and even, sometimes, physical pain.
This happens when a good relationship turns bad, and you don’t know how to get out or even if you want out. Experts call it, “teen dating violence.”
Teen dating violence happens when one partner starts to control another partner’s feelings and actions. Some examples of control are:
- Not letting you see your friends.
- Calling constantly to check up on you.
- Digging through your personal items, like your purse, back pack, cell phone, to get information on you.
- Jealousy and anger at every little thing you do.
- Telling you that they love you to get you to do things you don’t want to do.
- Telling you how you should dress or act in public.
These are just a few things. Sometimes it can get worse and the person will get angry and lash out at you by hitting, kicking, pinching, throwing stuff, destroying your belongings, etc. Some people who aren’t being hurt physically don’t think that they are in a violent relationship, but emotional, spiritual, and verbal abuse is considered violence.
There are many excuses for this behavior that your partner may tell you, like:
- I love you; I just get so mad sometimes.
- If you didn’t act that way, I wouldn’t have to get so angry.
- I want my friends to like you.
- I get jealous of your friends because you spend more time with them than me.
- If you really love me, you would do what I say.
The thing is, though, that they are not doing these things to you because they love you. They do these things because they are angry and are not able to control their own feelings, so they control yours. Doesn’t seem fair, does it?
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
It is not easy to leave any relationship, but an abusive one can be especially difficult. Here are some reasons why:
Love – You fell in love with this person. It is hard to see a person’s behaviors as hurtful when you are in love. A lot of abusers are charming, and when they are not abusing you, they are usually very kind and loving. Many people think that they can change the abuser, but the truth is you cannot. Many people remember the period when their partner is charming, and think that if they just behaved right, their partner would be charming all the time. He or she won’t.
Fear – When you begin to threaten to break-up, many abusers will tell you they will kill themselves and you will be responsible. Or they start to get more violent. You are not responsible for another person’s actions, and if you tell, you can get help to remain safe.
Doubt – When your partner is popular or you have lost your friends because your partner has been abusive, it may be hard to leave because you may fear not being as popular or even having friends. This is hard but it is more important that you are safe and chances are, your old friends will take you back when you tell them what happened.
Embarrassment –You may have told all of your friends that your partner is great and he/she probably looks that way to your friends. Maybe you are afraid you will be made fun of or that your caregivers will think you are flighty. The truth is that you will probably be more embarrassed if people find out that you are staying in the relationship.
Some facts about teen dating violence:
- 1 in 5 teen relationships have dating violence.
- Teen dating violence can lead to sexual risk, alcohol and drug abuse, and even suicide.
- There is help out there and you do not have to go through it alone.
- IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
Who do you tell?
If you are experiencing this, please tell someone. You can tell a Hatch Youth facilitator, a school counselor, a friend, a teacher, and/or your parents.
They can help you make a safety plan, like the next section below.
The most important thing is that you tell and if the first person you tell doesn’t believe you, keep telling! I will say this; Hatch facilitators will always listen and believe you, so they would be a good first person to tell.
The truth is: you will not always be believed by everyone you tell, but that doesn’t mean that the abuse is not happening or you shouldn’t talk about it.
Dating Violence Safety Plan
In order for you to be as safe as you can, it is a good idea to fill out this safety plan and read it a few times to remind yourself what to do. A safety plan is only useful if you use it and stay away from your abuser. This safety plan will help you get ideas of what to do, but it cannot guarantee your complete safety.
- I can tell these friends about what is happening to me:
- I can tell ___________________________________at Hatch what is happening me.
- I can tell ___________________________________at work what is happening to me.
- I can tell ___________________________________at school what is happening to me.
- I can tell ___________________________________at home what is happening to me.
- On my way home I can change my routes from work, school, Hatch, outings with friends, etc., every few days.
- I can change my cell phone number.
- I can block my former partner from seeing my Facebook, Twitter, etc., page by setting it to private and block them from messaging me.
- I can ask my friends to not tell my former partner where I will be.
- I can ask my parents/guardians to change the home phone number.
- I can ask my boss at work to not allow my former partner in the building.
- I can ask someone to help me get a protective order against my former partner.
- I can ask that my former partner not be allowed at Hatch.
- If I feel I am being followed, I can go to a police station and tell the police officer on duty.
- I can find new places to hang out like: ____________________________.
- I can ignore rumors spread about me, as they are just a way to get me to respond.
- I can send back letters I receive from my former partner, unopened.
- I can ask for help if I feel threatened at work, school, home, Hatch Youth, etc.
- I can talk to _________________________________if I feel lonely or I miss my former partner.
- I can write in a journal, draw, listen to music, read, exercise, play games, etc if I feel bad.
- I can ask to go to a therapist who will help me with my feelings.
- I can ask for help telling my teachers and counselors at school about what happened to me, so I can be safe at school.
- I can read up about abuse and teen dating violence.
- I can ask that my friends, family, Hatch Youth, etc., to keep my feelings private.
- I can ask to change schools and/or stores in which I work.
- I can keep my doors and windows at my home locked.
- I can ask that my locker combination be changed at school or work.
- I can call the police if I feel threatened at work or home.
- I can ask to file charges against my former partner with the police if I am being stalked, harassed, or have been injured as a result of the abuse.
- I can repeat to myself that it is not my fault and that it is not about me, but about them.
What is consent?
- Consent means both people deciding together to do the same thing at the same time, in the same way, with each other.
- Consent is active. Both people have to say yes. Not fighting back is not the same thing as saying yes.
- Consent means both people say what they want, and both people are okay with it.
- Saying yes to sex one way does not mean other sexual activity is okay. Always make sure everything you are doing is okay with the other person.
- It’s not your partner’s job to resist. It is your job to respect his/her boundaries. It’s up to you to make sure you understand what the boundaries are. You can do this by asking. I know it is embarrassing, but your partner will feel like you respect him/her if you do.
- Making someone touch you in a sexual way without his or her permission is sex without consent. If the person looks uncomfortable, ask.
- If someone says no and you keep pressuring, you do not have consent. Pressuring can be done in many ways like telling someone that you love him or her, so he or she should do this for you or that someone else did this for you. If they do what you want because of you convincing them, it is called coercion.
- You do not have consent if someone says yes because you forced them. You do not have consent if someone says yes because you threatened him or her. You do not have consent is someone says yes because you intimidated them. You cannot get consent from a mentally or physically incapacitated person. You cannot get consent from someone who is drunk or high on drugs. You cannot get consent from a minor.
- Consent can be withdrawn at any time. This means that the person says no, and/or the person does not say yes. This is tricky, so you should always ask if what you are doing is okay.
I Think My Friend is Being Abused. What Do I Do?
Speak Up. If you hear a friend say something mean or unkind about someone else, or if he/she talks about doing something violent, speak up for what is right. If your friend’s partner is doing it, you can say things like “hey, she’s my friend be nice,” or “that sounded abusive.” The abuser will know you are watching and your friend will know that you care to stick up for him/her.
Step In. When one person is mistreating another verbally (like insults or name calling), physically (like punching or hitting), or emotionally (like criticizing or embarrassing the other person), step in politely to stop the situation if you are sure it’s safe. Don’t be afraid to call someone out on his/her behavior and to use terms like abusive. To say someone is being abusive, is a pretty strong accusation and will usually get someone’s attention pretty quickly.
Talk it Out Later. Sometimes it’s better to wait and talk to your friend later, in private. He or she may be willing to talk more openly if it is just the two of you. If your friend does not want to listen to what you have to say, tell your friend that you will be her/his friend if and when your friend needs help. Do not belittle your friend any further. If you tell your friend that he or she is being stupid for staying with the abusive partner, it will just reinforce what the abuser has been saying about your friend. Use kind words and tell your friend how much you love him/her and how great you think he/she is.
Talk to an Adult. Sometimes (for example if your friend won’t listen to you), it may be best to go to an adult. The Hatch leaders, a teacher, your caregivers/parents and/or Gay & Lesbian Switchboard can be great people to talk to get advice.
Go for Help. If someone is in real danger, go for help right away or call 911. Do not try to get involved if anyone has a weapon or a fight is out of control.
TOP TEN THINGS I SHOULD I DO IF I THINK MY FRIEND IS BEING ABUSED
- Talk to someone “in the know” about it to get an idea of how to address it. A Hatch facilitator can help you or you can call the Montrose Center at 713.529.0037 and speak to the Anti-Violence Program Specialist.
- Know your facts. Read up on teen dating violence.
- Tell your friend you love and care about them.
- Talk to your friend about what you have seen that makes you feel this way. Allow your friend to deny that anything is wrong, but tell your friend that you and you are always there if he or she wants to talk to you.
- Tell your friend it is not his or her fault.
- Don’t allow rumors to be spread about it, and do not buy into the rumors. This makes it worse for the person.
- Don’t leave your friend. Most victims of abuse will not leave right away. It may take them several break-ups.
- Believe your friend. He or she may tell you some things that are hard to swallow.
- Do not confront the abuser. This is hard to do but if your friend chooses to stay, you could be setting your friend up for more violence. Abusers do not like to be thought of as abusers.
- If you think the abuse is getting worse, get help from an adult like a Hatch facilitator, a teacher, a school counselor, or a parent.
- You have the right to speak up for yourself.
- You have the right to say NO.
- You have the right to live free from abuse.
- You have the right to be loved.
- You have the right to take care of yourself.
- You have the right to make decisions for yourself.
- You have the right to wear what you want.
- You have the right to hug your friends and family.
- You have the right to decide what is sexually right for you.
- You have the right to be happy and healthy.
- You have the right to blow the whistle about abuse in your community to help stop it.
- You have the right to choose with whom you wish to spend your time.
- You have the right to ask that someone do not touch you when you are uncomfortable with that person.
- You have the right to your body.
- You have the right to express your feelings in a productive non-abusive manner.
- You have the right to express your inner beauty.
- You have the right to be angry at an abusive person.
- You have the right to be you!
What is sexual assault? Is that the same as rape? The term “sexual assault” can be confusing because it can mean so many things. It can mean unwanted touching, like someone grabbing your buttocks, someone getting you drunk so they can have sex with you, or someone physically hurting you through penetration to gain power and control over you.
Defined, sexual assault means: any sexual contact without your consent. This means that anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, and anyone can commit an act of sexual assault.
For many people, “rape” is the scariest term when talking about sexual assault. Rape is a term professionals use when they are talking about sexual assault where there is a threat of bodily harm and/or death. Legally, this is called aggravated sexual assault.
When we think about rape, we think about a stranger who hides in the bushes at night, waiting for someone to walk by. When we hear that someone was raped, we think that some girl was walking down a dark street in a short skirt and high heels, and some guy attacked her.
We never think about the guy who walks out of a club at night and is sexually assaulted. Guys can protect themselves, right? Wrong. Anyone can be raped. And not only that, our ideas about rape are WRONG!
Bet you didn’t know this:
- Women can sexually assault both men and other women.
- Men can be sexually assaulted.
- Most women and men, who are sexually assaulted, are wearing jeans.
- 80% of people knew their attacker.
- Most rapists don’t ejaculate because it is not about sexual pleasure; it is about power and control over another person.
- 80% of rapists/people who sexually assault state that they are heterosexual.
- Gay and lesbian partners can sexually assault each other.
Whew…that is a lot to take in, isn’t it? That is because we have been told about the dangers of sexual assault/rape by the TV. Many organizations, like Hatch Youth, do not have the same amount of money that big television and movie studios have to tell you the truth. You deserve to know the truth, but you also deserve to know that you are not alone if you had any of these things happen to you.
People are there to listen to you, to answer questions, and to help keep you safe.
If you have been sexually assaulted, you need to know that you are valued, that it is not your fault and that there are people who will listen to you.
These are some of the side effects of sexual assault:
- Sleeplessness/sleeping too much
- Constant sadness
- Weight loss/weight gain
- Drinking too much
- Drug use
- Loss of friends
- Wanting sex all of the time/never wanting sex again
- Low self-esteem
- Never wanting to be touched
- And more...
You are a good person and you do not deserve to feel this way. Tell someone. And if he or she doesn’t listen, keep telling! Someone will listen and help. Hatch Youth and the Montrose Center can help. We will listen and give you help even if:
- You were drunk when it happened.
- You were assaulted by a family member, friend, co-worker, or acquaintance.
- You were assaulted by a stranger.
- You were wearing tight clothing.
- You were sneaking out at night.
- You were high.
- You meant to do one thing but it turned into something you didn’t want to do.
- You are an undocumented resident.
Whatever happened, sexual assault is not your fault. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! No matter what you think you did, no one has a right to harm you this way! NO ONE!