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 tenth early warning sign of teen dating abuse is:
Has trouble controlling negative emotions
As all the other signs we’ve highlighted build on one another they add up to this final early warning sign. Anger, frustration, sadness, and jealousy are all normal emotions. How a person reacts to these emotions is important in determining if they are out of control. Most of us know how to calm ourselves down if we become angry or frustrated without resorting to violence. We may yell or stomp around, but we don’t hit someone or try to injure someone by throwing things. We may walk away from the situation or change the conversation to help diffuse the emotions. A person who cannot control his/her emotions, especially emotions that arise from anger, jealousy or fear, may lash out in response. If you are dating someone who reacts negatively to even the slightest emotional upset you become the target for your partner’s anger even if you aren’t involved.
People who cannot control negative emotions embroil everyone in their drama. Your partner cannot calm down with your best efforts. Your partner pushes you away when you are doing your best to help. Throwing things, punching walls, slamming doors, abusing animals or any kind of violent reaction is a warning sign. As we’ve stated before, it’s normal to have feelings of anger or jealousy from time to time. What’s not normal or acceptable is for a partner to use violence (whether directed toward you or not) in response. You must realize that as much as you love and care for your partner, he/she may need professional help in controlling his/her emotions.
You need to protect yourself in your relationship because a partner who cannot control his/her emotions becomes more dangerous as the relationship grows. Extreme jealousy, fear of breaking up or anger about perceived slights only increase in someone who cannot control these emotions.
Even if your partner is not directing violence towards you, his/her violent outbursts are still dangerous for you. It is only a matter of time before you become the target of the violence. It is only a matter of time before your partner becomes upset with something you’ve done (or not done). It is only a matter of time before he/she thinks that YOU are the problem, that YOU are to blame for his/her negative response to the problem (see Warning Sign – Blames You for His/Her Anger.). It is only a matter of time before your relationship becomes a case of teen dating violence.
If you haven’t read our other articles about the early warning signs of teen dating abuse, please do so. If you determine that any of 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.