As some of you know, I am a 16 year old high school student.  I have watched my friends and classmates grow up, and become involved in dating relationships.  One issue I am very passionate about, is healthy relationships with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
I have seen girls and boys who are in a relationship that involves physical and emotional as well as verbal abuse.  I feel that maturity plays a huge role in these situations, and often times the perpetrator needs help from an outside person before they should involve themselves in a relationship.  I also feel that leaving a relationship that involves any kind of abuse requires a support system, courage and confidence.
I want to equip my readers with the tools to recognize and get help if they find themselves in an abusive relationship, or know of someone who is.I am going to talk about the different types of abuse between spouses, within families, intimate partners, and what you should do if you find yourself in an abusive relationship.

The Facts

There are 3 common types of abuse. These include, emotional, physical, and sexual. Each form of abuse is based on control, and the main goal is to lower the victim’s confidence and self esteem so that they are eventually dependent on the perpetrator and will not be likely to get out of the relationship.
Emotional abuse also called psychological or mental abuse and can be connected to verbal abuse. It is when a person humiliates someone publicly or privately, controls what they do, isolates them from family or friends, and isolates the victim from basic necessities or physical objects.
Criticism, name calling and threats are all common forms of emotional abuse.  Often, threats are made to control what the victim does.  For example, the victim may be told they will be physically hurt or the abuser will commit suicide if the victim leaves or follows through with an action.  I have heard girls and boys say and/or text that they will “kill themselves” if the victim leaves or follows through with an action.
Physical abuse is when a person physically contacts another person with the intention to hurt, intimidate, frighten or cause pain. Physical abuse can also include denying the victim of medical care if and when needed, depriving the victim of sleep or other functions necessary to live, or forcing the victim to engage in drug/alcohol use against his/her will. It can also include inflicting physical injury onto other targets, such as children or pets, in order to cause psychological damage to the victim.
Sexual abuse is where force or threats are used in order to make the victim engage in a sexual act. Whenever a person is forced to engage in a sex act, whether the act is completed or not it is considered sexual abuse.

In many cases, the perpetrator will use children (if it is a family situation) or friends of the victim (if it is a social situation) to criticize the victim as well. This makes the victim feel that the abuse is all in their head or their fault because it is not only the perpetrator but their own children as well who are criticizing and humiliating.

Why Do They Do This?

The reason there are efforts from the perpetrator to isolate the victim from family and friends is so that the victim no longer has a support system.  This will make the victim feel they do not have the necessary resources and will be less likely to get out of the relationship. As a result, the victim has an increased risk of eating disorders, drug or alcohol abuse, suicide or depression. The reason these things are a higher risk is because these are things that the victim can control and therefore they embrace the desire for basic control of what they can or can’t eat and so on.

You Need To Know

There is a cycle of abuse that occurs between the offender and the victim. The first stage is called The Tension Building stage. This is where there is a lack of communication and trust from the offender and the offender begins to control the victim and get angry at minor things. The victim begins to avoid confrontation with the offender and is trying to always calm them down. The second stage is called The Violent Episode stage. This is where the abuser attempts to dominate the victim with physical or sexual violence. The final stage in the cycle is the Honeymoon Stage. This includes the offender apologizing for the violence or avoiding discussing the violence and buying gifts and saying nice things to the victim and making the victim feel loved. This honeymoon stage is the stage that the victim holds on to and is affected by the most. It may be the reason the victim finds the relationship difficult to leave. This cycle repeats itself through the course of the relationship, and in most cases will continue until the victim leaves or the offender seeks help.

What To Do

If you feel some of these definitions apply to your relationship & find yourself in a situation where there is any kind of abuse or you feel someone you know is experiencing abuse it is important to know that getting out of a relationship like this is necessary. It doesn’t matter if you are the offender or the victim because it damages both people severely. Realize that abuse is not right, and continuing in an unhealthy relationship that involves lying, physical violence, pressure, humiliation, or threats will cause serious damage to everyone involved.

If you or someone you know needs immediate help call Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
Visit Kids Help Phone for more information: http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/teens/home/splash.aspx

Love Always,
Alexandra

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