If it happens to you, you might feel…
…that you’re all alone.
You’re not alone. Other teens and adults have experienced abuse and violence in dating relationships. They mostly report suffering emotional and sexual violence. Friends, other family members, neighbors, social workers, teachers or school counsellors, doctors and other service providers are all possible sources of help. There are also many community resources available to help you. At the back of this booklet, you will find some ideas about sources of help.
…that you’re worthless, ugly, stupid or unlovable.
You’re not. You’re a normal person who had a bad experience. You have the power to move on from it. And you have the right to have a healthy, happy relationship.
…that you can’t tell anyone.
You can tell someone. Pick a person you trust, such as a friend, neighbour, family member, teacher, counselor, or community services staff person. If that person does not listen or understand, tell a different person. It’s okay to ask for help. Silence and acceptance will only lead to further abuse.
…that it’s your fault.
Abuse is not your fault, even if your dating partner may want you to think it is. People make their own choices. Your abuser made the choice to abuse you. But you do not deserve to be abused. Nobody does. You deserve to be treated with respect.
…that you’ll accept the abuse so you can keep the relationship.
Abuse is never acceptable. Once abuse starts, it almost never stops by itself. In fact, abuse and violence almost always get more frequent and more severe if you allow them to continue. Sometimes you might think it is more important to have a relationship than to be safe. But
abuse and violence are never acceptable. They grind you down and eventually destroy you.
…that the abuse means your abuser loves you.
Abuse is not love. Abuse is about wanting power over another person. It is about control. If your partner is jealous or possessive and cuts off your contact with friends, that is about control. If your partner tells you what to do, hurts you or forces you to have sex, that is about control. It is not love. Love is not about anger, jealousy, or fear. Love is about friendship, respect, accepting and encouraging one another.
…that your abuser was stressed or intoxicated, so it doesn’t count.
Abuse is abuse no matter what. Stress, alcohol, drugs or any other factors do not take away a person’s responsibility for his or her choices and behaviour. Many people have stress or use
alcohol and drugs but they do not abuse others.