Written by Katie Beer
Love DOES equate to respect, and it always will. Relationship abuse in young adults is a long lasting problem. “One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.” (via www.loveisrespect.org) This number is too high, and almost seems outrageous. Think of three couples you go to school with, and the fact that statistically, one of those couples probably isn’t an example of a healthy relationship.
One of our major problems in society today is our ability to perceive things as normal or acceptable when in reality, they are not. We think of abuse as bruises and scars and leave out the possibility of emotional, sexual and verbal abuse. We also tend to overlook sexual abuse on scales smaller than violent rape. Teenagers hear stories all the time about their peers being pressured into sexual favors by their partner. Most of the time, kids overlook these as fine because they’re a couple and therefore they’re “supposed to” provide that luxury to each other. Sexual abuse is common in young adults because of the vulnerability we have at our age. We assume that if other couples do it, we should too, right? Even if we’re uncomfortable? Wrong.
Young couples also tend to overlook the whole concept of emotional abuse. We perceive far too many abusive actions as normal. The silent treatment, lectures, and comparisons are all abusive qualities. Your partner should not lecture you on how to change your behavior, they should not end an argument by ignoring you, and they should not compare you to other people in an effort towards “constructive criticism.” Your partner shouldn’t control your activities or your schedule, and they shouldn’t scare you. If your partner induces fear, something is wrong and you need to discuss that with them. If you can’t discuss it, you need to hit the road.
In conclusion, we live in a society where everyone’s intention is to “mind their own business.” People seem to think that invading someone’s personal life is the worst thing that could ever happen, unless it has to do with the gays (then everyone thinks it’s their business.) Anyway, as a society, we need to learn to step in. Don’t ignore girls getting yelled at in the grocery store or boys being hit by their girlfriends and ignoring it in attempts to “take it like a man.” Say something. Pull the victim aside and ask if they need help. Talk to a school counselor or a principal. Stop minding your own business; sometimes stepping in can save a life.