Pay attention to Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Nicole Caratas | Friday, February 5, 2016
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Organizations such as the YWCA go to schools and talk to students about healthy and unhealthy relationships. Though some people overlook teen relationships as being illegitimate or even laughable, the truth is middle school and high school students have serious relationships that can go seriously wrong. And I’m really happy for all the kids who will get to hear these presentations and maybe help themselves before their relationships become unsafe.
I wish someone had taken my middle school relationship serious. I was 13 when I started dating my first real boyfriend. We were together for almost a year, and honestly I have no idea how I made it. He was my best guy friend, so I thought everything would be safe.
But then I stopped wanting to cooperate with whatever he wanted to do. At first, it was small things. He would want to hold hands during class, and I thought that was inappropriate. He would want to make out for the entirety of Iron Man 2; I wanted to watch. And then he started getting mad. He would claim I didn’t actually care about him, or say that he has no one but me and even I don’t really love him. We would fight constantly. If I didn’t text him right away, he would send text after text making sure I wasn’t ignoring him. When I went to visit an old friend and didn’t answer my phone for a couple of hours, he accused me of cheating, saying I would have answered him otherwise. He had to know where I was at all times.
The more I pushed back, the scarier it got. I was scared to break up with him because whenever the fights got particularly bad, he would threaten to cut himself. Sometimes, he would even say he would kill himself without me. He never outright hit me, but he was definitely more forceful than anyone should be with a significant other. At this point, I was still only 14 and I was in way over my head. I had no idea how to handle this, and I was so scared something would happen and it would be all my fault.
I didn’t realize this was an unhealthy relationship until years later. I never told anyone, but I wish I had someone at school tell me what constituted an unhealthy relationship. I wish someone told me I didn’t deserve this, that if I would wait five years, I would find someone who would accept me through all my relationship anxiety and would genuinely care about my well-being.
This is an important month. Teenagers need to realize unhealthy relationships are not their fault. They are not responsible for anything the abuser does, and they can and should get out. They should know they are worth more.