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Dating That Hurts
Photo: Torvald Lekvam
You finally land a date with the hottest guy in school. You go shopping for new jeans and those great looking canvas mesh shoes with the straps. You’re ready 20 minutes early, but you know it’s going to be worth it.

When Mr. McDreamy finally makes it to the door, he takes one look at you and tells you you’re ugly and so lucky that he took pity on you and asked you for a date because it’s probably the last date you’ll ever get. On the way to the car, he slaps you because you’re not keeping up with him. What do you do next? I know you’d end the date, maybe even tell your father and let him deal with Mr. McNightmare. And you’d know in your heart that you were way too good for him.

Let’s change the scenario a bit. Let’s pretend you’ve been going out with Mr. McDreamy for a year and you’re feeling a little uncomfortable with some of the things he wants you to do and how he’s begun to treat you, so you tell him you want to break up. He tells you you’re ugly and that you’ll never get another boyfriend and then he slaps you. Unfortunately, too often in this scenario, the girl believes her boyfriend and decides she better stay with him rather than be alone.

Dating Abuse On the Rise

Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? Well, it’s what’s happening to teens throughout the nation. In fact, the incidence of dating abuse is so prevalent that Liz Claiborne Inc. formed a research center to study the phenomenon and recently released findings from a 2006 survey. There are some chilling results. The findings were astounding. The results show that alarming numbers of teens experience and accept abusive behavior in dating relationships and that the problem gets worse as teens get older and into more serious relationships. Many teens also feel physically and sexually threatened. Key findings include:
  • 1 in 2 teens who have been in a serious relationships say they've gone against their beliefs in order to please their partner.
  • 1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they've been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner
  • 1 in 4 teens who have been in a serious relationship say their boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family; the same number have been pressured to only spend time with their partner.
  • 1 in 3 girls between the ages of 16 and 18 say sex is expected for people their age if they're in a relationship; half of teen girls who have experienced sexual pressure report they are afraid the relationship would break up if they did not give in.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 girls who have been in a relationship (23%) reported going further sexually than they wanted as a result of pressure.
  • 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.
When I read this report, I was sickened. Although the report indicates the incidence of dating abuse among teens is on the rise, it’s certainly not a new phenomenon. In fact, in 1965 I experienced similar abuse. When I’ve shared my story with people, they are usually incredulous that I, of all people, would have allowed someone to abuse me. But abuse doesn’t usually happen on the first date, or the fifth. And it doesn’t usually happen to girls who have good boundaries, who have high self-esteem and a loving relationship with their parents. It also doesn’t usually happen to girls who prefer group dates and who decide to save serious dating for college. It doesn’t usually happen to anyone who believes they are a child of God.

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it -- we're called children of God! That's who we really are” 1 John 3).

If you recognize yourself in one of those statistics, confide in an adult who loves you and let them help you. Recognize that no one – no one -- is allowed to hit you and hurt you with their words or their fists. You are a precious child of God. If you’d like to read more about the study by Liz Claiborne Inc., visit: www.loveisnotabuse.com.

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By Dee Litton Reed. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE ®.

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