Teen relationship abuse: who’s to blame?

By Kaitlyn Kohler
February 13, 2013

When I first think of teen relationship abuse, the first thing that comes to my mind is where are these kids’ parents and how do they not know what’s going on? As a teenager, and the older of two daughters, my parents were always stricter with me. My dad was especially strict and protective of me when it came to dating and boys. Throughout my early teenage years, I never had a “boyfriend.” Of course, I hung out with guys in groups, but I never went on a real date or had a real relationship until my late teenage years, and I was OK with that. Though I was a teenager not that long ago, the times have definitely changed drastically.

It is extremely hard to be a girl growing up in today’s world. I could not even imagine being in middle school or high school today. The kids these days are brutal, and technology and the media only make it worse. Many girls deal with self-esteem issues and have negative views of their bodies and overall physical appearance. A majority of these girls turn to the wrong thing for attention and to feel good about themselves such as partying, drinking, drug use and finding guys that aren’t good but will give them the attention they want. Some of the guys these girls get involved with often do drugs, drink, are older than them, want the wrong things and are overall bad guys.

Many would say, “Well, if a guy treats you bad why don’t you just leave?” That’s the problem. Abusive relationships are pretty much like an emotional roller coaster and have good and bad times. These couples will fight, then make up. It’s a never-ending cycle. They have huge fights. Then the abuser will apologize, say I love you and then the cycle starts all over again.

Girls are not the only ones to blame or point fingers at in an abusive relationship. What about the guys? They are as easily influenced by media and pop culture as the girls. Listen closely to some of the songs on the radio and what do you hear? Most of the cool and popular songs today send awful messages to young kids. I’m shocked half the time at what I hear when I turn on the radio. These artists, mostly rappers, talk about drinking, drug use, partying, cars, clothes, having money and “swag.” Along with all of that, the frequently talk about disrespecting women and sex, and with more than one women usually. I will not lie and say I don’t listen to these songs because I do, but what kind of message are these songs sending to boys in their early teens?

To be honest, I am not shocked that there is teen relationship abuse. That being said, I was not shocked when I read that two out of 10 girls are victims of teen relationship abuse. Abuse includes any type of physical contact such as hitting, grabbing, pulling and any form of physical violence. Abuse it not limited to physical. It can also be verbal. However, I do not want to point fingers at the guys. I was surprised to read that one in 10 males are exposed to abuse, and it is the same form of abuse girls experience. As I sit back and think about the ratios of teen abuse, I have to question what has caused the high numbers? Is it pop culture, technology or society? Teen relationship abuse is something that needs to be stopped, but how can we stop it? Can society be to blamed for the rise in teen abuse?


Does your boyfriend or girlfriend:

  • Have a history of bad relationships or past violence?
  • Always blame his or her problems on other people?
  • Blame you for “making” him or her treat you badly?
  • Try to use drugs or alcohol to get you alone when you don’t want to be?
  • Try to control you by being bossy, not taking your opinion seriously, or making all of the decisions about who you see or what you wear?
  • Talk about people in sexual ways or talk about sex like it’s a game or contest?
  • Pressure you to have or force you to have unprotected sex?
  • Constantly text you or call you to find out where you are and who you’re with? You might think that’s about caring, but it’s really about controlling your relationship.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be in an abusive relationship. Talk to your parents or another adult family member, a school counselor or teacher, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474.

Remember, you’re not alone. Talking really does help. And without help, the violence will only get worse.


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Kaitlyn Kohler

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