Monday, February 16, 2009
The Rihanna Factor
If you weren’t camping out under a rock, I’m sure you heard about the Rihanna/Chris Brown story last week, the one where he beat her to a bloody pulp in his rental car. I bring this up because it highlights a very important issue. Rihanna is rich, famous and beautiful, but it didn’t protect her from domestic violence.
I know when I think of domestic violence, I always think of older, married women. But the demographic most vulnerable to domestic violence is actually young women age 16 to 24. Statistics say that one in four high school relationships is physically or sexually violent.
The only bright spot here is that there are warning signs. Excessive jealousy, which many teens see as a sign of devotion, is one, characterized by things such as controlling what their partner wears and does and who they see. Sometimes this is as far as it goes, but more often than not, it escalates to physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
If you’re a teenager, right now you’re creating the habits you’ll follow for the rest of your life, which is why everyone’s on you not to smoke or do drugs. This is another one of those habits. If you let a significant other control you or abuse you now, chances are you’ll be allowing it for the rest of your life. So please, please, if what I just described sounds like your boyfriend or girlfriend, end it now before it's too late. And don't do it alone; get some help. If he or she becomes threatening, you might even have to get a PFA (Protection From Abuse, or a restraining order). Sounds melodramatic, I know, but so is getting hospitalized with a busted-up kidney or something worse.
And if someone you know is dating someone who acts overly jealous or controlling, or if you think your friend is getting physically hurt, do something. Talk to your parents or theirs, or a guidance counselor. Yeah, this is going to involve some betrayals of confidence, and your friend will probably freak. But this is one of those situations where freak-outs are kind of necessary. And would you rather have a friend who’s a statistic or a survivor?
Find Jacquelyn Sylvan's book, Surviving Serendipity, at Amazon or Quake Direct!