As president of feminist club one of my responsibilities is to arrange meetings and guest speakers. Last year I brought in a battered women’s counselor to talk to us about healthy teen relationships. I knew the red flags, I had heard them before, but I like most people did not want something bad to apply to me. My friends told me that I was in a bad relationship, but as I heard the counselor list off the red flags, it became reality.
Her talk about unhealthy teen dating felt like a description of my relationship. At the time, I was not spending time with friends or traveling for fear of making my then boyfriend mad, he kept trying to pressure me into things I made clear that I was not ready for, yelling, blaming, threatening, endless fighting over nothing. I had many wonderful, supportive friends during this time, but I had others that did not deal with what I was going through as well. Being on the receiving end of the advice and support taught me exactly what works and what does not work. It has been said many times before, but it is so incredibly important that I want to say it again: the most important thing in these situations is to be there for the victim of an unhealthy/abusive relationship. Some of my friends dropped me or got mad at me for not spending enough time with them. It was not that I did not care, it was that I knew he would be mad.
Other friends tried to pressure me to leave him. I understand how this would make sense, but for someone in a controlling relationship, the last thing I needed was to be controlled by someone else. The other thing is, however simple it may seem to an outsider, leaving an unhealthy relationship is incredibly hard. This can be because one believes their partner can change, they truly love them, or the partner threatens that something bad will happen if they do break it off.
Once I finally did leave my ex-boyfriend I finally felt free. My friends were there for me after I broke it off. One of the best ways I was able to get over it was blocking his number and social media. People with controlling personalities like that are manipulative and will try to get their partner back with lies and empty promises, that is why cutting off communication is essential. Everyone deserves respect and happiness in their relationship. We all have a duty to do what we can to help victims of unhealthy relationships and I hope this blog post is helpful in doing so.
Diana Kabbani is a student and President of her school Feminist Club.
Want to learn more about building teen resiliency? Check out The DO YOU program. DO YOU addresses youth violence, dating and sexual violence, sexual harassment, and bullying by confronting its root causes and enhancing protective factors (also referred to as building resilience) to promote positive development and healthy relationships for age 13-16 years old. The UnCurriculum (the facilitator’s guide for DO YOU uses primary prevention principles and creative expression in a strategy intended to prevent violence before it starts.
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