Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dating violence is real

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My friend, Amanda (not her real name) and I go to different colleges. She is afraid of guys since she had an abusive boyfriend. He gave her bruises on her arms and legs and threatened her all the time. She gave him all her passwords and stuff to her social media and phone and he still controls her, even though she broke up with him.

I told Amanda’s mom and her mom said she didn’t think it was really that bad and that Amanda has always been a drama queen! She doesn’t get it! I saw the bruises and heard him being violent with her.

Amanda got really upset that I told her mom what was going on and said she knew her mom wouldn’t believe her so that’s why she never told her. She said her dad doesn’t care. Amanda completely lost it and shut herself in for days.

Then Amanda said she needs me to come home from my out-of-state college as often as I can to to help her. I can’t do that. She gets really depressed about her abusive “ex-“ boyfriend but he seems to always still be around.

I think she’ll keep hanging around with him because she feels guilty or something. What can I do?

Abused Girl’s Friend

Dear Friend,

You are a loyal and good friend. However, Amanda wants you to help her stay a victim.

We advocate our the Triangle of Triumph, where we take people through three stages: Victim, survivor, and finally, leader. Here’s how it works:

Victim: We ask victims to acknowledge they are a victim (no staying in denial), and move through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Then, the most important choice is to decide not to stay a victim.

Survivor: This is where we implore former victims to Define Yourself Before Others Do™ using the five C’s as a guide: Civility (what values and virtues will guide you as a considerate person contributing to society), courage (how will you show courage in your valiant choices), confidence (your infinite worth was already decided when you were born as a child of God), creativity (where will you learn how to use your internal and external talents and how will you share them in our culture), and strong carriage (to empower a person’s ability to stand alone).

Leader: This is where Survivors take charge of leading themselves first and then others through their developed five C’s. A leader will be empowered to never accept abuse again. And although no one chooses to become a victim, Amanda can decide two things: Not to stay a victim and to become a leader in our society.

Truths about dating violence:

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner every year.

  • One in three girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

   • Nearly half of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.

   • One in three dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, email or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.

   • Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.

   • And just one-third of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse with only 19 percent of parents believing teen dating violence is an issue.

Our advice to you is to not become co-dependent on your friend. It’s okay to be caring and loving but not in excess so that you become responsible and enmeshed in Amanda’s unhealthy behavior.

Help her out of victimhood.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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