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Facts & Myths

Myth: Abuse in teen relationships will eventually stop as they get older. It is just a phase.

Truth: Abusive relationships involve a pattern of controlling behaviors that can span a lifetime and multiple victims.  Abusers will only change when they take full responsibility for their behavior and realize they do not have the right to control and abuse.

Fact:  1 in 2 teens who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve gone against their beliefs in order to please their partner.*

Trust your instincts.  If you are uncomfortable with something, you should not be pressured to stay in that situation.

Myth: My partner and I are equally abusive with each other.  So it’s both of our faults.

Truth: There can be unhealthy relationships in which there are unhealthy behaviors from both parties.  That doesn’t excuse either person’s behavior and it doesn’t make it okay.  There is no excuse for using abusive behaviors.

FACT:   1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.*

Fear and control are never part of a truly healthy relationship.

Myth: Abuse only happens to certain people.  My partner isn’t that kind of person.

Truth: Relationship abuse can happen to anyone, no matter what race, religion, income status, gender, or sexual orientation you identify with.

FACT:  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.*

Isolation from friends and family is a warning sign of an abusive partner.  Someone who wants to control you tries to take away your friends so that you have no support and feel more dependent on him or her.

Myth: If my partner is jealous of my friends it means that they care about me.

Truth:    Jealousy is often an abuser’s excuse to control and isolate you.  While jealousy can be a natural feeling, it depends what you do with the feeling.  If their jealousy is turning into telling you where to go and who to talk to, it is unhealthy and controlling.

FACT:   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.*

You have the right to say no.  Sexual abuse often starts with pressure. Someone who truly respects you will not pressure you in any way.

Myth: My partner “jokes around” a lot and playfully hits me.  It’s not that bad so it’s not abusive.

Truth: Relationships should be fun and enjoyable.  Behavior crosses the line into unhealthy when; one partner is not comfortable with it; it becomes disrespectful; or someone gets hurt (either emotionally or physically).

FACT:   1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.*

Myth: Most of the time they (the abusers) are just defending themselves.  The victim was attacking and provoking them.

Truth: Abusive partners often manipulate and control to make it seem like the abuse is the victims’ fault.  Self-defense is doing only what is necessary to stop another from physically hurting you.  Self-defense is not when someone cheats on you; then you physically abuse her/him.  Self-defense is not when someone slaps you; then you slap him/her back.


*March 2006, Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) survey commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc.

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