The Truth Behind Teen Dating Violence

My interview with a victim of teen dating violence.

Georgia is 16 years olds; into image, popularity and being cool.  She told me that she is probably considered a bully, but she “only speaks the truth to freshman and sophomore.”  She sees herself as helping them fit in better, which means conforming to the culture at this particular school. She said that the only way to survive is to bully or you become the bullied. Never show weakness is her motto. She has an identified clique that she hangs out with and they police each other heavily on what they say, dress, who they date, and where they go to “be seen.”  She doesn’t hang out with ugly people and only dates the popular boys. She likes to portray an air of confidence everywhere she goes. She says that she will never admit that she’s not good at everything. She says that her mom is definitely a tiger mom and that she is tough on her. Her mom is her role model. Her friends are tough on her as well, but she expects that because she is hard on them. She said that she judges people all the time and assumes they judge her as well. In her words “it’s part of life.”  We talked about how eating disorder are common among the girls she knows and how her best friend suffers from depression.  She told me that she sees a therapist weekly and began to explain her situation.  This is when she became very real to me in the interview and allowed herself to be vulnerable.  She talked about dating violence and how she was dating someone for 8 months that was abusive. She said that her therapist encourages her to talk about it now because her experience doesn’t define her, it’s simply something that happened to her.  Apparently, he was a popular boy at another school and they quickly became the “it couple.” She says that peer pressure really made her date him, but quickly image and perception made her stay.  She never told anyone that he was abusive because she was embarrassed and didn’t want her friends to know that things weren’t perfect. So, she stayed in the relationship and told her friends that everything was great.  The first time the abuse occurred, he pushed her down a flight of stairs. She told herself that it was a fluke/an accident because she was in shock by the situation and he apologized. He would follow the typical cycle of verbal and physical abuse then apologize profusely with gifts and flowers so she forgave him over and over. The last straw was when he held a broken bottle to her face for no reason.  She said that she went numb, “died a little” and can’t remember much of what happened next. She called her mom to come get her and finally told her about the abuse.  Her mom blames herself for not paying closer attention to the relationship and Georgia is still recovering. Her self-esteem has been hit a very big blow, but she is slowly on the mend. She still gets scared if a boy shows interest in her, but she feels that therapy is helping. She worries that maybe violence is what her future holds for her in relation to dating. This situation has completely skewed how she sees boys. Right now, she is completely confused by what a healthy relationship looks like.

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About Carol Langlois
Dr Carol is a former University Dean and Associate Provost, trained therapist, researcher, educational consultant and writer. During her training, she counseled hundreds of clients in one-on-one sessions as well as in group settings where her work was with college freshman dealing with transitional and developmental issues on campus. Her primary research focus is female self-esteem development among teens. Her published dissertation “The effects of single gender versus coeducational environments on the self-esteem development and academic competence of high school females” focused on 15 year old girls in the Bay Area where her research findings showed disturbingly low levels of self-esteem across the board. This staggering discovery has led her to further research this topic. She is working on her second book called Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image, which is a compilation of interviews with teens girls on the topic of self-esteem while offering an effective and practical system designed to RAISE (Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-Respect and Empowerment) teen self-esteem. In addition, she runs groups for non-profits interested in adding self-esteem training into their overall mission. carol@dr-carol.com

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