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Love

doesnt have
to hurt teens
The American Psychological Association developed this document with consultation from the Partners in Program PIPPAH is supported by the Office of Adolescent Health of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources
Planning in Adolescent Health (PIPPAH), whose members include: American Bar Associations Center on Children and and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The views expressed herein have not
the Law, and Commission on Domestic Violence, American Dietetic Association, American Medical Association, and been approved by the governing or policy setting bodies of any of the PIPPAH organizations, and accordingly, should
National Association of Social Workers. not be construed as representing the policy of any of these organizations.
The printing and distribution of this publication is supported in part by Cooperative Agreement No. 5 MCU-
11A302-02 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
Sound familiar? Jennie and Tyrone lunch in the cafeteria with her
friends. They start teasing each other, but then
Christine and Allison are in an intense argument.
Christine gets madder and madder, until she final-
the playing turns to insults. Tyrone sees that Jen- ly grabs Allison, shakes her, and shoves her against
Kevin is walking in the school hallway with his nie is upset but doesnt stop. When Jennie gets up the wall. Later, Christine apologizes, saying, Im
friends and sees his girlfriend at her locker with and says, Get away from me, I hate you, Tyrone not proud I lost my temper, but you really pushed
her friends. When he goes up to her, she gives says, Shut up and slaps her across the face. my buttons. You should know better than to get
him a cold look and says loudly, I dont know why up in my face like that, because you know I get
I even bother with you, loser! I guess I just keep That slap is violence, and it is a big deal. too angry to control myself.
you around because I feel sorry for you. Kevin
feels frustrated because he doesnt know what he That kind of behaviorthe shoving and then
did and embarrassed because his friends saw his blaming someone else for the behavioris
girlfriend putting him down. violence, and it is a big deal.

That kind of humiliation hurts, and it is a


big deal.

Tony and Emily have been dating for a few


weeks, and he is beginning to act like he owns
0 her. He complains when she spends time with her
best friendor anyone except him. He expects Alfredo and Maria, who have been going out
her to meet him in the halls between classes, eat for a few weeks, are making out. Maria has been
lunch with him, let him go home with her after clear that she doesnt want to go any further than
school, and be with him every weekend. Afraid kissing, but Alfredo becomes aggressive, disre-
shell lose him, Emily begins to cut herself off garding her request to slow down and back off. He
from her friends. forces her to have sex, later telling her she was a
tease and asking for it.
That kind of possessiveness isnt loveit is
abuse, and it is a big deal. That kind of sex is rape, and it is a big deal.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Love shouldnt hurt Its wonderful to be in love. Its exciting, ro-
mantic, and fun, and you feel like nothing can go
Or maybe you do get it. You know things arent
right, but you feel alone. Youre ashamed to tell
your friends. Youre afraid the explosions and
like this!
wrong. Sure, like the love songs say, love hurts
sometimes. You worry, you wonder if the person jealousy will get worse if you tell anyone. Youre
you love really loves you, or if he or she is cheat- afraid to tell your parents because they might
ing on you. But knowing that love hurts doesnt make you break up. Maybe youre also afraid of
mean you should expect to get hurtto be put losing your boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe you
down, slapped, embarrassed in front of your think its worth it to put up with anything just to
friends, pushed, yelled at, forced to have sex if have someone special in your life.
you dont want it, controlled by, or afraid of the
person youre going out with. Every relationship has problems and up-
sets. Thats just part of life. But if you see
Getting hurt like that isnt love. Its dangerous.
patterns of uncontrolled anger, jealousy,
Its violence. It can happen to anybody, even if
youre smart or popular or strong or sophisticat- or possessiveness, or if there is shoving,
ed. And it doesnt matter who youre seeing. It slapping, forced sex, or other physical vio-
happens to girls and to boys. It happens in same- lenceeven onceits time to find help.
sex relationships.
Think about this: Imagine that your best friend
At first, if it happens to you or to a friend, you might is dating someone who thinks and acts that way.
not get whats going on. Youre thinking, I can Would it seem okay? Would you want them to
handle this. I can make it stop; or Theres no black stop hurting each other? Would you treat your
eye. Im not getting pushed down a stairway. I best friend this way?
shouldnt take put-downs so seriously. Maybe youre
thinking, He only gets jealous because he loves me. You have the right to be treated with respect and
She only slapped me to show attitude. She wont to not be harmed physically or emotionally by
love me if I dont do everything she wants when she another person. Violence and abuse are not ac-
wants it. To show my love, I should want to spend ceptable in any relationship. Love shouldnt hurt
every spare moment with him. like this.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Whats the first step in turning
the situation around?
Take it seriously.
Listen to yourself.
If you feel that someone is abusing you, trust those feelings.
Take it seriously.

Whats the second step?


Take care of yourself.
Youre too valuable to settle for love that hurts.
Dont stay silentfind support and help.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Believe itits happening
Nearly one in 10 high school students will experience physical
violence from someone theyre dating. Even more teens will expe-
rience verbal or emotional abuse during the relationship.

Between 10 and 25% of girls between Girls are not the only ones who are Violence happens in same-sex relation- Often a relationship doesnt start out
the ages of 15 and 24 will be the victims abused physically or emotionally in re- ships, too. When it does, gay and lesbi- violent, but the violence starts after the
of rape or attempted rape. In more than lationships. Boys also experience abuse, an teenagers often dont know where to two people have known each other for
half of those cases, the attacker is some- especially psychological abuse. Boys turn for help. If they are not comfortable a while. The one big exception is forced
one the girl goes out with. rarely are hurt physically in relation- telling people theyre gay, that makes sex (sometimes called date rape or ac-
ships, but when it happens, its often their situation even harder. In some quaintance rape). Forced sex can some-
severe. Boys also can be pressured or cases their partner may threaten to times happen the first or second time
forced into unwanted sex, by girls or by out them even though he/she knows it two people go out, especially when one
other boys. could be dangerous! person has very little dating experience
and is afraid to say no.

If you think something is wrong, it probably is. You may feel anx-
ious, have trouble sleeping or experience a change in appetite
or weight. Your body may be telling you that something is not
rightpay attention to these signs.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


If Theres No Respect, It Isnt Love
Type of violence What it means How it works Early warning signs

Verbal Abuse Behavior that causes harm with words Name calling, Insults, Public humiliation, Yelling Teasing that includes insults

Psychological and Behavior intending to cause psychological or Threats; Intimidation; Put downs; Telling a per- Pouting when you spend time with your
Emotional Abuse emotional distress sons secrets; Jealousy; Possessiveness; Isolat- friends, Threatening to leave you in an unsafe
ing a person from friends, family; Destroying location, Trying to control what you do
gifts, clothing, letters; Damaging a car, home,
or other prized possessions
Physical Abuse Behaviors that inflict harm on a person Slapping, Hitting, Shoving, Grabbing, Hair pull- Going into a rage when disappointed or frus-
ing, Biting, Throwing objects at a person trated; Teasing, tripping, or pushing; Threaten-
ing to injure

Sexual Violence: From Sexual advances that make a person feel un- Insisting, physically or verbally, that a person Using emotional blackmail to talk you into
Coercion to Date Rape comfortable; sexual behavior that is unwanted who said no have sex anyway; Forced sex having sex (If you loved me, you would)

Abuse of Male Privi- Behavior that assumes that boys have more The guy makes all decisions for the couple, Expecting you to be available to him at all
lege: Its a Guy power than girls and that boys have special The guy expects his girlfriend to wait on and times or he is available to you when he feels
Thing privileges in relationships with girls pamper him, The guy treats his girlfriend as if like it; Acting macho with friends: This is
she is property he owns my woman!

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Why does it happen?
Violence is so common that sometimes it seems like the normal thing. But
its not. Its something we learnand something we can change.

To understand why relationship violence happens, start by thinking about


some of the situations you deal with every day.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Learning the rules of love
When you first begin to date someone seriously, you have new
and unfamiliar experiences. You start to discover societys rules
for dating and relationship behavior. In addition, you are trying
to figure out how to impress someone who is really special to
you and how to be yourself in a relationship. You see all kinds
of images of what relationships are supposed to be likebut
how do you know which ones are the right ones to follow? Its
hard to ignore other peoples examples of relationshipsfor
example, if your parents dont show respect for each other it
would be hard for you to know how to respect your boyfriend/
girlfriend. But you can decide for yourself what sort of relation-
ships you want to have with your friends and your boyfriends
or girlfriends. You can learn to have a healthy relationship and
be loved and treated well by someone you care about. Violence
is not the way to do it. Respect is.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Stereotypes that hurt
In every culture, people have certain ideas about what it means to
be a man or a woman. These ideas are called stereotypes. When
you first start dating someone seriously, stereotypes can get you
really confused about how you or the person youre going with
ought to behave.

Boys often have the idea that its a guy Girls often accept the idea that its a
thing to act tough and treat girls like guy thing to push girls around, and
property, like they own them. Guys often so they should learn to go along with it.
try to get their friends approval by act- Girls also may believe its a girl thing
ing like they dont care about anything to try to figure out and do whatever will
or anyone. Even a guy who likes a par- keep their boyfriends happy. So, they
ticular girl might show off for his friends may feel that they have to do only what
by treating her badly or acting like shes the guy wants, or they may put up with
been put on earth just to have sex with the guy ignoring them, treating them
him. badly around others, being really posses-
sive, or being violent or abusive.

Both girls and boys often have the idea that boys Remember: Theres no guy thing or girl thing when Violence and abuse are always the wrong thing.
cant control themselves when it comes to sex. They it comes to violence and abuse in relationships. Theres
may believe that if a man forces a woman to have sex just the right thing and the wrong thing.
against her will, she was probably leading him on in
some way.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


The violence around us
Violence is all around uson television, in movies, in music
videos, in video games, and even in our schools, neighbor-
hoods, and homes. People get into fights on the street, on
buses, and in malls and use every kind of threat just to get
their way. Drivers shout at and even shoot at each other. Tele-
vision and movies show buildings and people being blown to
bits. Bench-emptying brawls break out regularly on hockey,
baseball, and football fields. Schools around the country use
metal detectors and security guards to protect students from
outsiders and from each other. And even at home, parents
resort to violence to express their feelings to each otherand
sometimes to their children.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Personal pressures
Some social and personal situations are Violence at home. When children see a parent Cultural beliefs. Teenagers cultural and ethnic
hard for anyone to handle, but they are being abused, they often grow up thinking that backgrounds affect their relationships. Some
especially hard when they affect teenagers. name-calling, screaming, or hitting is normal be- teenagers come from cultures in which people
tween people in love. Children in violent homes dont date someone unless theyre going to mar-
These personal pressures can contribute to
often get the idea that it is acceptable to threat- ry that person, so they may not let their families
abusive or violent behavior in relationships en, intimidate, bully, or hit another person to get know they are in a relationship. In some cultures,
and to accepting that kind of behavior their own way. loyalty is such an important value that a teen in
from a boyfriend or girlfriend. an abusive relationship may decide not to ask for
help. Also, teenage girls who believe they cant
Being lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Teenagers who do much with their lives because of their familys
are lesbian, gay, or bisexual face special pressures. or cultures rules, or because of discrimination or
When under a lot of stress from the outside world, poverty, may place their hopes for the future on
some gay or lesbian teens may respond by getting finding someone to love and take care of them.
angry at the person theyre going out with. Even if Abuse may seem like a small price to pay to es-
victims decide they want help to stop the violence, cape a life without hope.
they may not be able to get their friends, their
teachers, or other adults to listen and understand
what theyre going through. If they havent told Having a disability. People who have disabilities
anyone else about their sexual orientation, finding often face a higher risk of violence of all kinds,
help also means taking the risk of coming out. especially if they are less able to defend them-
selves or to report abuse. Any behavior that inten-
tionally harasses, teases, or takes advantage of a
person with a disability is abusive. That includes
such acts as keeping something out of reach of
a person who uses a wheelchair, making it hard
for someone who uses hearing aids to hear you,
or deliberately trying to confuse someone with a
learning disability.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Getting pregnant. Pregnancy is a vulnerable time Getting sexually involved with an adult. Young Drinking alcohol or taking drugs. Drinking al-
that often leaves a teenage mother-to-be feeling teenagers sometimes find themselves involved in cohol or taking drugs does not cause violence,
alone, dependent, helpless, and condemned by sexual relationships with persons much older than but it can have unpredictable effects: It can lower
parents, teachers, and friends. If her boyfriend is they are. Although you may have romantic feel- inhibitions or change perceptions of what is re-
abusing her, she may not tell anyone because she ings for someone 5 or 10 years older, even if both ally going on. Even one drink is enough for some
fears losing him, doesnt want to face more disap- of you consent to having sex, you should know teens to say or do things they regret. Alcohol and
proval from her family, or fears her baby will be that the older partner is committing a crime drugs also cause people to misread situationsto
taken away from her. called statutory rape. Also, some adults beat or see a come-on when there isnt one or to see only
otherwise seek control over teens that theyre in- friendliness in a situation that could lead to rape
volved with. A sexual relationship where an adult or other violence. Drugs and alcohol often are
dominates and controls a young teen should never used as excuses for abuse: I didnt mean to hurt
be confused with love. you. I was out of control. Being drunk or high is
never an excuse for hurting someone.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Ready for a change
When youre ready to change the situation Dont think the violence and abuse will just stop
Hurting someone is never a sign of love. When a relationship is violent, Violent behavior wont disappear on its own. One or both of you may have
the people involved need to either make the relationship work without vi- wrong ideas about relationships, expressing anger, what to expect from each
olence or get out of it. You dont have to settle for an abusive relationship, other, what you deserve from someone you love. Usually, both of you need
and you dont have to continue to behave in abusive ways. Both of you support and help to make a change. Being hurt by someone that you care
deserve better. about can make you feel weak, worthless, helpless, and alone. Turning to
drugs or alcohol is not a good way to handle the situationit will not make
People often need help to get out of abusive relationships. There are lots of the abuse disappear or feel more bearable.
reasons why breaking free can be hard. From a very early age, we get the idea
that having a romantic relationship is the most important thing in the world Start by talking to someone. A counselor, a coach, a teacher, a parent, a doc-
and is worth any sacrifice. tor, a minister or rabbi, or a close friend can help you get an objective opin-
ion of the situation. They may also have some good ideas to help you stop
Dating someone can be a status symbol, a way to feel more secure, or a way the hurting and start talking to each other about what you really want and
to break into a new circle of friends. need in a relationship.

Some people just dont like to be alone. They may feel that any relationship Then take some action!
is better than no relationship.

Many teenagers dont want to ask their parents for help. A girl whose boy-
friend has slapped her might be afraid her parents wont let her go out with
him or with anyone if they find out. A boys parents might not approve of his
girlfriends influence and take away his car keys. The parents of a lesbian, gay,
or bisexual teen might see one violent relationship as proof that all same-sex
relationships are unhealthy.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


If you are the one getting hurt Get support.
One of the most com-
Demand respect.
Point out the ways
You cant change them.
And as much as you
mon forms of rela- youve been hurt physi- might want to help the
If a person who claims to love you also Make sure youre safe. tionship violence is cally, sexually, and emo- person you care about
threatens, intimidates, or injures you, that Even if you havent isolationkeeping you tionally to the person get over their abusive
decided yet whether to from spending time youre going out with. behavior, you have to
person has some wrong ideas about love
leave the relationship, with your friends. If Say that its a big deal think of yourself first.
and isnt worth your time. If you cant love someone youre going
you can decide to be to you and that you
someone without also feeling afraid of him safe. Take some time to out with controls your want it to stop. Now.
or her, youre better off getting out of that think about ways you free time, you start to This can be a hard step
relationship. can take yourself out of feel like you have no- for many reasons. The Find help.
a dangerous situation where else to turn. You person may deny the Just because this is your
the next time it occurs. arent as likely to hear abuse, get furious and relationship doesnt
Assault is a crime. The most important For example, you can the support of friends threaten to hurt you, mean you should try
If you are afraid that thing you can do is screen your phone calls, who want you to leave your family, or himself to solve the problem
someone youre going take care of yourself. see your boyfriend the relationship. This or herself if you try on your own. A boy-
out with may hurt you As serious as the situ- or girlfriend only in a is the time you need to leave the relation- friend or girlfriend who
badly or if he or she ation may seem, there public place with other that support most. Talk ship or tell anyone else is hurting you already
already has, dont hesi- are always alternatives people around, or find to a friend, a teacher, a about the problem. Or doesnt respect you in
tate to call the police. to having a relation- a friend to stay with if counselor, anyone who the person may get re- the way you deserve.
In many states, teens ship with someone who you need to. Thinking will support you as you ally sweet and remorse- Talk to an adulta
who have been threat- hurts you. Demand to through a plan of ac- stand up for yourself. ful, crying and prom- teacher, counselor,
ened or harmed can get be treated with respect. tion can help you feel Knowing that you dont ising never to hurt you coach, or friendwho
the same restraining Youre worth it! more in control of a have to rely on yourself again, only to return to will stick with you. Ask-
orders and other pro- situation so you can can give you the cour- the same old patterns ing for help isnt a sign
tections as adults. take the next step. age you need to break later. Encourage the of weakness. Its about
free. If the first person person youre dating to getting the support you
you talk to doesnt give find help dealing with deserve and making
you the support you anger. Face fact though: sure your boyfriend or
need, try someone else. Most people wont girlfriend gets the mes-
Dont give up! make that change, even sage: Abuse is serious,
if they really love you. and you deserve better.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


If you are the one doing the hurting
For your own sake and for the sake of the person you love, get Drinking alcohol or Nobody is ever justi- Youre not a bad per-
help! The problem of hurting people when youre angry or frus- using drugs does fied in hurting some- sonjust someone
not make you hurt one else to get their who needs help to
trated or jealous is not going away on its own. Even if you hon-
someone. It can have way. Youre not going stop a bad behavior.
estly think youre sometimes justified in your actions, you need to unpredictable effects, to get what youre You can learn new
talk over this behavior with someone who can give you some new though, and can change looking forlove, re- ways to deal with your
ideas about how to handle your feelings. the way you view situ- spect, kindness, affec- anger, to fight fair, to
ations. You can never tion, a happy time with communicate, and to
use drugs and alco- someone who loves and give and get love in
hol as an excuse for trusts you unless you relationships. Dont
abusive behavior. You learn how to deal with let shame or fear stop
should make it a reason your frustrations in a youtalk to a parent,
to get help for way that is not hurtful teacher, religious lead-
substance abuse. to others. er, doctor, nurse, psy-
chologist, or guidance
counselor today.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


How can I help my friend?
Seeing a friend in a violent relationship is painful. You might
want to help but not know what to say or do. You might be
afraid of getting involved in someone elses problem. Or may-
be you havent seen the violence or abuse, and the person your
friend is dating seems so nice that you wonder how much of the
story to believe.

If youre worried, say something. If youre con- Listen, support, believe. If a friend asks for your Call in reinforcements. Your friend might tell you
cerned about your friends safety, mention it. Peo- help, take it seriously. Believe what your friend about a violent relationship only if you promise
ple who are being hurt in a relationship often feel tells you, not the gossip you might hear in the to keep it a secret. Violence and abuse are not
they cant talk to anyone. They may be ashamed. hallway. Your friend is trusting you with very per- problems to be kept secret. Whether your friend
They may think the abuse is their fault. They may sonal and painful informationbe a true friend is ready to get help or not, find an adult you can
think they deserve it. Let your friend know that and dont spread gossip. Give support by making talk to. Take your friend along if you can. You
youre there, youre willing to listen, and youre it clear your friend doesnt deserve to be abused in can tell the adult that you dont want to break a
not going to judge. If your friend isnt ready to any way. Recognize that, as abusive as the person promise to keep a secret, but dont carry this bur-
admit there is a problem, dont give up. By being your friend is dating might be, your friend might den all by yourself.
supportive and letting your friend know someone find it difficult to leave the relationship, partic-
is willing to listen, youre making it easier to start ularly if your friend believes it will make the vio-
dealing with the problem. lence worse.

love doesnt have to hurt teens


Resources
Stopping violence in teen relationships is everyones responsibility. Boyfriends, girl-
friends, friends, parents, adultsall have a responsibility to speak out against behavior
that is harmful and to prevent it from occurring.
Here are some people and organizations that can help. You can usually find phone num-
bers in your local phone book or ask a counselor at school to help you get connected.

People and organizations Telephone numbers Websites


State domestic violence coalitions National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800- Project PAVE (Promoting Alternatives to Vio-
Local rape crisis centers 799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 18007873224 lence Through Education)
National Organization for Victim Assistance, http://projectpave.org/just-teens
Gay and lesbian resources/centers for teens
1-800-TRY- NOVA Boss of me: Making a transformation through
4H programs in rural areas
National Resource Center on Domestic empowered relationships
Students Against Destructive Decisions http://www.bom411.com/
Violence, 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-
(SADD)
3224 Love is respect
Teachers, school counselors, school nurses www.loveisrespect.org
RAINN: Rape, Abuse, and Incest National
Doctors and other health professionals Network, 1-800-656-HOPE Love is not abuse
Psychologists and other mental health The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline, www.loveisnotabuse.com
professionals 1-866-331-9474 (available 24/7) Teenpcar: It stops with us!
Shelters for battered women Domestic Violence Hotline, 1800799SAFE http://www.teenpcar.com/
(7233) or TTY 18007873224 Know more: Stop abuse. Get help now. Learn how.
GLBT National Youth Talkline, 1800246 http://www.knowmoresaymore.org/
PRIDE

love doesnt have to hurt teens