DASH’s early warning signs are meant to guide you in determining whether your relationship is healthy. In this series of articles, we will explore each warning sign in more depth so that you will have a better idea about what each sign means and if you need to address a problem in your relationship.
Our sixth early warning sign of abuse is:
Has a history of discipline problems (“bad” boys):
We love our rebels – guys and girls who go against convention, who won’t let anyone tell them what to do, who break all the “rules”. The rebel seems exciting and interesting. Life with a “bad” boy or girl is certainly never dull, but it can be dangerous.
Rebellion in teens is a normal part of the growing process. It’s natural to question what society says is normal or accepted. Most of us outgrow the rebellion and come to an understanding about how the real world works. We may hate school, but we realize that we have to go because it’s the law and we need an education to succeed in life. We might not want to go to work, but we’ll get fired if we don’t. We know we can’t start a fight with everyone who makes us angry. Rebellious behavior can escalate into violent behavior toward others and toward you.
If the rebel in your relationship has problems that have led to suspension from school or jail time it’s time to step back and think about the situation. A bad boy (or girl) will convince you that if you really love him, you’ll accept him no matter what he does. He will talk about how everyone is against him; you’re the only one who understands him. All the problems in his life are someone else’s fault. The rebel is always innocent of the charges. It’s all very exciting until you find yourself having discipline problems of your own. Listen to those who truly love you and want the best for you.
Don’t fool yourself – no matter how much you love a rebel, you won’t be able to love the “bad” out of them. If a partner had discipline problems because of his/her behavior, you are at greater risk of being abused. See the pattern here. Dating abuse is about control. If a rebellious partner can’t control his/her own life (resulting in discipline problems), they are likely to try to control you. A person who is willing to turn to manipulative, intimidating or violent behavior to deal with his/her problems is likely to use the same tactics to control you.
If you determine that these warning signs are part of your relationship, remember: you are not alone. You may not know how to get help. You may be afraid to leave the situation. Abusers know that they can control you emotionally because no one wants to admit that someone else has treated them so poorly. Do not be ashamed. Dating abuse is not your fault. Recognize the signs of dating abuse and get help if your relationship exhibits any of these characteristics. You don’t have to handle this alone. Sharing can save your life. For confidential help, please call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474.
loveisrespect.org, a collaboration of Break the Cycle and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, can now answer your questions and concerns via text message. Simply text “Love Is” to 77054 for confidential help. Normal texting fees apply.