Teens and Dangerous Dating

Teens and Dangerous Dating
By: Holly Brantley

A new study finds an alarming one in five teenage girls say they have been hit, slapped, or pushed in their dating relationships.
So, if this is happening so often, why haven’t we heard more about it? Teenagers say abusive relationships are tough to talk about. And, those caught up in them really don’t know who to turn to.
Teens like sixteen year old “Nicole” say abuse happens and she knows first hand. “I have been through an abusive relationship,” said Nicole. “It just makes you feel down all the time. It's very stressful.” For Nicole, the worst part was not knowing who would listen to what she was going through without judging her. She felt terribly alone. “He was very controlling,” said Nicole. “I felt like I could not go anywhere and that's crazy.”
“Kaitlyn” is fifteen years old. She says she also hears stories of sexual abuse. And, she says the pressue to have sex is everywhere.
“It comes from more than one person,” said Kaitlyn.  “Males in general and sometimes several in one day.”
Kaitlyn says she has not given in to sexual pressure. But, she says she is one of the few. “There are not many people who have not had some type of sexual experience,” said Kaitlyn. Nicole and Kaitlyn believe most parents have no idea the problems they face.
“Sharon” is a councelor and a parent. She encourages parents to dig into the touchy subjects and talk openly with their teens. “Get a good poker face,” said Sharon. “Just jump into those kinds of conversations.” Linda Garner of the Safe House for Women says even young parents may not realize relationships have changed over the years. “There’s a lot of pressure to fit in and have a boyfriend or girlfriend,” said Garner. “Self-esteem is more fragile than in the past.”
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