Editorial // Treat Her Like a Lady

“So there’s this guy…”

Numerous girl talk sessions have started off with those four words, and the conversations typically continue on like this: “…he’s nice, funny, and sweet, plays sports, gorgeous body, and I love being around him.”

So what happens when that girl talk turns into this: “He’s funny, sweet, plays sports, hits me, cute smile, gorgeous body, pushes me, all my friends like him, we’re a cute couple, he hurts me… but he doesn’t mean to.”

This transformation from a seemingly normal relationship to one that’s violent has taken the lives of many teenage girls. It is no by-product of the infatuation phase — it’s dating abuse. Teenage girls are actually justifying the bruises, broken noses, black eyes, and mental deterioration in their abusive relationships in order to salvage something they feel like they need. Teen dating abuse is becoming all too common, and it’s time to educate, encourage, and restore young women that are suffering from this abuse. Dating abuse amongst teens should never be tolerated or accepted, because the trading of respect and love in exchange for a gentle touch or an “I love you” is deadly.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines dating abuse as “when one person purposely causes physical or psychological harm to another person they are dating, including sexual assault, physical abuse, and psychological/emotional abuse.” Even with a clear definition such as the one previously listed, there is still a lack of understanding and acknowledgment in regards to this issue because of the exceptions that are constantly accepted. In a survey conducted by the Boston Public Health Commission for youth, on teen dating violence, 71% said arguing was a normal part of a relationship, but 44% agreed that fighting was a normal part of a relationship. Referring to the Chris Brown and Rihanna incident, one that provoked a national dialogue on domestic abuse, 46% said that Rihanna, the victim, was responsible for the incident. Now, this is not a matter of pointing fingers, or investigating who provoked whom in this situation, or any other domestic violence case. The point is that teen dating abuse is a crime, and a situation most girls struggle to get out of, but with no children, and no marriage like some battered adult women, why are teen girls staying?

According to survey results from the Duluth Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, girls stay in these relationships because of fear, love, and guilt. Some are afraid that their peers will look at them as failures, and some reevaluate situations and end up blaming themselves for the abuse that they’ve endured. Others are just so wrapped up in a devastating crave for love, that they’ll manipulate anything and call it “love.” Because of this, about one in five high school girls has been physically, or sexually abused by a dating partner, and 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their dating relationships continue to date their abuser.

How long must we wait for society to fully address dating abuse? Stop selling front row tickets to Russian roulette games with young girls. Speak up, educate, encourage, and restore our future queens because their lives depend on it.