Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Abusive Teen Dating Relationships

One mother's story, with resources for parents and teen:

"Things have completely turned around in our home since Julia is no longer involved with Steve (the abusive boyfriend). Not only was I dealing with him but I was also dealing with his mother. They were like a team pulling my daughter away from me and into their world. It was disturbing, to say the least. And it was very hard to break her away from them because of the manipulation.

He would call ten to twenty times a day and text her non-stop. He wanted to know what she was doing every minute of the day, who she was with, what she was wearing ... he had her completely turned against me and the rest of our family and friends. His mother was just as bad. She was enabling their relationship and allowing Julia to sleep over without my knowledge and against a police order for no contact.

She is now away from him. I cannot begin to tell you what a nuisence he was all day every day. Before she got away from him I tried to make her aware of how needy she was to even want someone like him in her life. I think society puts so much pressure on people to date without providing any real education on what signs to look for and how to break up with someone when it's not right.

I read a great saying that I would say over and over again to Julia: "You'll never find Mr. Right if you don't get away from Mr. Wrong". How true!

I think teens have too much contact with each other today. Between the computer and cell phone they are always "in touch". It doesn't allow them a second to think for themselves or for a parent to get a word of advice in.

I was finally able to start talking to Julia again when we began looking for colleges. The long car rides were a great time to open the communication back up. So I made sure we looked at schools several times a week and that they were at least an hour or two away.

The abusive boyfriend had no control over that time and I was able to help her open her eyes to his sick behavior.

He "told" Julia that she was moving in with him and his mom when she turned eighteen. So I was under a lot of pressure to make sure she "got it" before then. I wasn't about to hand her over to them. A lot of people suggested during that time that I should let go of her and let her learn her own lessons but I didn't agree. Even though she treated me awful during that time I wasn't giving up on her and I wasn't going to let her ruing her life to learn a lesson. I kept focused and kept moving forward.

The hardest part is not to take any of what they say and do personally. I once read that the human brain is not fully developed until the age of 25 so I would just hold onto that thought when she was being disrespectful.

It has been approximately two weeks since she broke it off and since that time she has applied for a job (and was hired), has started running again, is excelling in school, no longer has anxiety, is not cutting, is not angry, is not addicted to the computer, and is sleeping more soundly. What should that tell us? Now that she has had time with this other boy "Mark" who is normal and healthy, she is starting to understand how dysfunctional her relationship was with Steve. Thank God it's over!

It's really sad to hear how many teenagers today are in relationships that are destructive and how it can effect every area of their life and wellbeing. I hope society starts to look at this more seriously.

I have been reading a great book on this topic called "But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling Abusive Dating Relationships", by Jill Murray. I would recommend this book to anyone dealing with a teen in an abusive relationship."

~ Suzanne

Message from Isabelle: I am happy to report that a year later, Julia is doing great. Her mother had planned to send her away to a boarding school and decided to try coaching instead. She said: "You were very instrumental in getting me through probably the most difficult time I have had as a parent and I will always be grateful our paths crossed. It would have been so sad if I had sent her to a boarding school and lost this time with her all because of an abusive boyfriend! She would still be sitting there today - angry!"