I bet your teen knows someone in a violent relationship. Why? Because one in three teens is aware that a friend has been physically attacked by a dating partner. Girls aged 16-24 are most vulnerable to "intimate partner" violence.
We're not talking her partner's upset about gas going up 10 cents a gallon. Or depressed because his grandmother is dying and he always acts mad when he's sad. We're not saying he had a bad day at school or work and took it out on his partner.
We're saying she is his excuse for violence. His target. The one he says he loves.
Sound twisted? It is! The girl who loves him is caught in his trap. She tries so hard to be perfect because he says she isn't. Tries so hard to forgive him even though he doesn't forgive her. Tries to excuse his behavior because life is treating him bad. Thinks about leaving, but is afraid to because he loves her so much.
But if she loves a batterer, love hurts. It may hurt emotionally when he says everything she does is wrong, stupid, or bad. When he takes her money, forces her to do what he says. Won't let her talk to friends and family because they might tell her the truth about him. Because he might lose control over her.
Twisted love often hurts physically, too. As in bruises, cuts, broken bones, sprained wrists, black eyes.
Teens and young women need to know a batterer's behavior is not about love or a woman's human imperfection. It is about violence. He is breaking the law. He is the perpetrator of a crime. And usually, he won't admit it.
When a teen or women does admit his craziness to herself and decides to break up or get away, she is in danger. She is a thing to him. A thing he controls because he can, because it makes him feel strong. A thing he is so obsessed about he will do anything to keep her--including murder or threats so dire she is sure leaving will harm herself or her family. She is terrified, ashamed, confused, and maybe even still in love.
The women who stay for some time at the shelter and attend women's groups after they leave, have fought their way out of the trap. They are still aware of the trap, still afraid of it, but are moving away from it. Trying to get away from him and his "love".
There is no tougher struggle. They deserve support, encouragement, a safe place to live, and admiration.