Monday, February 02, 2009

Love Is Not Abuse

I'd love to write a post reflecting about my one month stint at the Casbah with photos and highlights of the month, but I saw something on Facebook that made me stop in my tracks and think maybe it was time for me to get really personal for a moment.


The crime of teen dating violence, including physical, emotional and sexual assault, and harassment via in-person, on-phone, texting, email or Instant Messaging is a cruel reality for many American teenagers--a reality of which many parents are unaware.

~~ 62% of tweens who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc) by a boyfriend/girlfriend.
~~ One in five 13-14 year olds in relationships (20%) say they know friends and peers who have been struck in anger (kicked, hit, slapped, or punched) by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
(Statistics from Love is Not Abuse research effort.)

At 32, it seems weird to even think that I was a part of these statistics, perhaps even before it was recognized as abuse, but my first relationship was full of verbal abuse, and it wasn't until he actually hit me that I woke up and ended things, but I know there are probably a lot of people who are or were in my position and for the benefit of preventing it from happening to someone else, I thought I should just talk about it openly.

The thing about it was that I had a good life. It happened when I was 15 to 17. I had a strong, supportive family, I got good grades, I played three sports in high school, I was in A.S.B., involved in school, and had a lot of friends, and despite all that, nobody close to me really ever knew what I went through with my boyfriend. It was too embarrassing and painful to talk about, and something that was easy to gloss over because the fights got really bad but the making up was always so good. Of course he always said it would never happen again. And of course it did.

In fact, it wasn't until later relationships of being utterly adored and loved that I realized it wasn't normal for someone to be enraged by jealousy, for someone to put you down so bad that you wanna crawl under a rock, that I shouldn't be the emotional or physical punching bag for him to release whatever was going on inside him. But I learned and I'm stronger for it and I only wish that I had reached out to someone back then that might've helped me get out of a year and a half of anguish. It was half my life ago, but I still know exactly how all of that made me feel each and every day. I also know that I was lucky because it could've escalated to a point of no return.

With social sites, prevention hotlines, counselors, etc, there are more ways than ever to reach out to people, and I hope that if anyone reading this finds that they are in a similar situation that they reach out to someone, even if it's me, because I can say you don't deserve to be treated poorly, you do deserve to be loved and you will find and meet people who know how to love without hurting you. For more information, check out the RAINN website here.

For anyone interested, The Material will be performing on Friday at Epicentre for a Teen Violence Awareness event.


Unknown said...

Thank you for writing that.

s0fa said...

thank you so much for writing this. sometimes we try to keep these things to ourselves, but it is so important to find strength in others and remember that we are loved. it is so true what you said about jealous, it is NOT how someone should act if they care about you.