Teen Dating Violence: Starting Early

Our final story of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, now on the cusp of Women’s History Month, details the slow onset of red flags in a relationship that started later in high school. After trust had been established, she started to notice something was wrong, but continued to make excuses for these behaviors.

My senior year of high school, I began dating someone I was close friends with. Our relationship unfolded as I watched him score winning touchdowns, positively influence our community, and grow in how much we appreciated one another. I got sucked in and I thought it was so glamorous. After three months, the tide shifted and my relationship went from everything I wanted to dating a person I didn’t recognize. I held onto a small glimmer of hope that maybe he would change. Our small disagreements went from him being gentle and kind to hurling insults and making me feel like I wasn’t a person with valid feelings. I made excuses. Our saturday nights went from dinner and a movie to getting lied to like clockwork as he started to abuse drugs. Still, I made excuses. Our sundays went from spending time with family to turning me against everyone who didn’t approve of his behavior until I was left with no one but him. There I was, still making excuses. As time was passing, the more excuses I was making the more my self respect was deteriorating. I started to believe I deserved this. After almost a year of being together, I was controlled, lied to and belittled on a daily basis. Despite him throwing a package of deodorant at me, I constantly said “Well he never has put his hands on me… At least he didn’t do that.” That is the extent to how far my excuses went for his behavior. You do not have to be touched to be abused. I was so close to spending my whole life making excuses and holding on to the person I thought he should have been, not the abusive and manipulative guy standing in front of me. All of me felt as though I had invested so much time in this person, so I couldn’t just leave. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. I would rather kiss the wasted time goodbye than kiss a person who was wasting my time. No one deserves to feel like lesser of a person and it is never too late to walk away. I am a living example of that.

Our friend is right: it is never too late to walk away. The investment in the relationship does not justify the harm or pain experienced. There is hope for survivors and victims of teen dating violence and we are so proud to have these strong women in our corner.

Thank you all for the stories you have shared with us and for the support our community gives men and women experiencing these situations. The respect and trust we have received is unparalleled. To get involved, stay up to date with Battered and Beautiful as we release information about volunteer opportunities and fundraisers. We are thankful and appreciative of you!

If you or someone you love is experiencing TDV, please know that there are resources to help you. You can visit the National Domestic Violence hotline at www.thehotline.org for more resources.