Abusive relationships: The bad and the ugly

By Jesse Gaunce
October 27, 2010

Abusive relationships are one of the leading social problems from teens to adults of all ages.

Standford.edu defines relationship abuse as “a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. An abusive relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you.”

Some of the biggest signs that point to abusive relationships are public humiliation, violence or quick loss of temper, threats to take children away, intimidation and of course, physical abuse which could include choking, hitting or throwing objects that could cause significant harm.

According to womensissues.about.com, each year, approximately one in four adolescents have reported some form of verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

This is especially true with high school students. 80 percent of teens believe verbal abuse is a serious issue for their age group. Dating violence among their peers has been reported by 54 percent of high school students and the majority of teen dating abuse occurs in one of the homes of the people involved.

Abuse in relationships seems to be more focused on women, especially teenage girls. One in five high school females have been physically or sexually abused by their dating partner.

According to buzzle.com, an estimated 1.8 million are abused each year. It is the single major cause of death to women ahead of rape, mugging, and car accidents.

Women suffer from emotional abuse more than physical violence. Nearly 35 percent of women who are or were married by common law have experienced emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can lead to long-term problems such as low self esteem, depression and other health problems.

Nearly 70 percent of women who have been raped knew the rapist in some capacity whether or not he was a former boyfriend or just a mere acquaintance. 80 percent of women who are abused continue to date the person who abused them.

Abuse in relationships has even gotten national attention.

Everybody knows about what happened between pop stars’ Chris Brown and Rihanna, right? Well here is a reminder for those who forget. Brown punched Rihanna after Rihanna got upset over a text message sent to Brown’s phone from another woman that he was rumored to be having an affair with.

Brown pleaded guilty to the felony assault and was sentenced to five years probation and six months of community service. After the scuffle, Rihanna was left with a split lip and contusions on either side of her forehead.

Brown and Rihanna are rumored to be getting back together.

There have been other cases of abuse that have been brought to the attention of the public. However, this situation was not made into as big of a deal as the Brown-Rihanna incident.

Just recently, Amber Portwood, the star of the hit MTV show “Teen Mom,” hit her boyfriend Gary Shirley in front of their daughter, Leah.  There are reports that Portwood is being investigated for domestic violence by police in Anderson, Ind.

Domestic violence in front of a child age 14 or younger can result in felony charges in Indiana as well as other states, according to training director at the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Caryn Burton. MTV’s camera crew could be charged with a misdemeanor because they did not intervene in the altercation. It is against Indiana state law to not report witnessed domestic attacks or child abuse.

If you are a victim of any type of abuse in a relationship, you should immediately seek help.

Jesse Gaunce

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