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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.
Being angry is a normal part of being human. A person can be angry over little irritations or huge problems, but it is the way that person deals with those feelings that can reveal a potential abuser. Has your partner ever said something like “You made me hit you” or “You just make me so mad” or “If you wouldn’t make me jealous, I wouldn’t be so angry”? This kind of reaction is a classic sign of abuse – blaming you for the anger he/she feels. Your partner’s reaction to situations is important to understand.
We’ve all been late. We’ve all had misunderstandings. We’ve all said things we didn’t mean. We’ve all been angry over petty things. Yet, most of us let the anger slide after cooling off a bit. An abuser will not take responsibility for his/her own actions and reactions. An abuser who cannot control his/her anger will lash out at the one thing he/she can control: you. Your partner will claim that YOUR actions need to be changed. If your partner gets angry when you are late (especially through no fault of your own), he/she will berate you about it. If your partner is jealous when you spend time with friends, he/she will demand that you stop seeing those friends. If you try explain a misunderstanding, your partner will dismiss your reasoning. In all these scenarios, an abusive partner blames you. (Notice that many of the early warning signs we wrote about earlier build upon one another.)
As a result of placing the blame on you, the abuser feels entitled to his/her reaction to the situation whether it is physical or emotional abuse. The partner then blames you again for “making” them abuse you. It becomes an endless cycle. Even if you do everything in your power to please your partner, there is always something that will set him/her off. You end up living your life to avoid your partner’s “triggers.” You give up favorite hobbies, hanging out with friends and you begin to think that your partner is right – you are to blame for all the problems in the relationship.
Anger and abuse only escalate as the abuser gains more control over you and the relationship. If these examples sound like something that’s happening in your relationship, take a step back, confide in a trusted adult, and educate yourself about teen dating abuse.
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 “loveis” to 22522 for confidential help. Normal texting fees apply.