In the USA, one of three adolescents is a victim of abuse from a romantic partner.
Abuse is often taken to be a serious and adult thing. Unhealthy aspects of teen relationships can be dismissed as people who’ve yet to grow or immaturity.
While this is sometimes the case, a teen relationship can still be an abusive relationship.
While dating as a teenager, it’s important to take a good look at your relationship and ensure it’s a healthy one. If you’re unsure if your relationship might be abusive — or you’re worried about a friend — keep an eye out for the signs.
Trying to Change a Person Too Much
In any relationship, it’s normal for people to change. Interests blend together as partners attempt to involve each other in their passions and hobbies. Who doesn’t want their significant other to love their favorite movie or cook their favorite food?
Ultimately though, both people should retain a sense of self. If you or your friend is experiencing the pressure to change your personality — to become more submissive or give up harmless interests — it might be a warning sign of abuse.
Lay down boundaries about who you are and if your partner fights these, it’s a red flag.
Extreme Pressure to Move Quickly to the Next Step
People are still growing as teens, and everyone reaches the various stages of their life at different points. Whether it’s moving out of your parents’ house, sex, getting engaged, or something else, many teens aren’t ready for these things yet.
Your partner should always be understanding of these boundaries and respectful of them.
If you or a friend is being pressured to make a leap you don’t yet feel ready to, this may not be the love you deserve. Don’t be made to feel bad or ‘uncool’ to say you aren’t prepared for something.
Emotional Manipulation and Gaslighting
Gaslighting and emotional manipulation can be hard to spot if you’re the victim. If you’re a friend of someone who is, however, you might be able to help them see the light.
Abusers will often play with emotions by insisting that everything is the victim’s fault or lying about what the victim has said or done to the point of making them doubt their own recollection of events.
Physical abuse can often be more subtle than expected. It might be pinching or hair-pulling, something that’s easy to mistake for light-hearted when the other person is annoyed — but the truth of the matter is, physical reactions to a situation are never okay.
One of the consequences of teen dating violence is the victim dismissing physical abuse until it’s gone too far, but even these ‘small’ signs should be taken seriously.
If this has happened to you, look into getting help, and know that you deserve better. If you see it happening to your friend, assure them of the same.
Beware of the Many Possible Signs of an Abusive Relationship, Especially as a Teen
As a teenager, dating is relatively new and it can be hard to work out what’s normal and what constitutes a healthy relationship. It’s important to be aware of the signs of an abusive relationship and know when to walk away from someone or seek help.
No one’s perfect, but there’s a huge difference between someone who needs to grow and someone who is abusive.
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