Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
I have been dating someone for a couple of months, but he seems to want to hang around me all the time. He doesn't want me doing anything with my friends, although he still does stuff with his friends such as going to sporting events. He seems jealous when I make plans with my girlfriends to go shopping or to the movies. He calls me several times a day and stops by my house unexpectedly even when I'm not home and asks my mom where I am. He tells me that he's worried that I will leave him like his former girlfriend. What can I do to help him stop being so insecure?
Dear Double Standard,
While jealously is a sign of insecurity, your new boyfriend may also be showing early warning signs of a domestic abuser. Some of the warning signs are jealousy, possessiveness, controlling, alcohol or drug abuse, and history of poor relationships. If you are concerned about the possibility that he is showing early signs of abuse, then end the relationship now. It would be helpful to tell your mom or confide in a friend or school teacher or counselor in order to have support when leaving the relationship.
Early warning signs are important indicators of later potential dating violence. Dr. Jay Silverman at the Harvard School of Public Health estimates that "One in five girls between the ages of 14 and 18 report being hit, slapped, or forced into sexual activity by their dating partners." (www.hsph.harvard.edu)
The Eastside Domestic Violence Program at www.edvp.org gives these early warning signs of teen dating violence and safety planning tips for teens:
Are you going out with someone who....
1. Is excessively jealous
2. Checks in with you constantly or makes you check in with him/her
3. Has an explosive temper
4. Is violent: has a history of fighting, abuses animals, brags about mistreating others
5. Tries to control you by giving orders, making all the decisions, telling you what you should and should not wear
6. Pressures you or is forceful about sex
7. Isolates you from friends and family and puts down people who are important to you
8. Believes in the stereotypical gender roles for males and females
9. Gets too serious about the relationship too fast
10. Blames you when he/she mistreats you; tells you that you provoked him/her
11. Does not accept responsibility for his/her actions
12. Has a history of bad relationships and blames them on previous partners
13. You fear - you worry about how he/she will react to things you say or do
14. Owns or uses weapons
15. Won't let you break up with him/her
SAFETY PLANNING FOR TEENS IN ABUSIVE DATING RELATIONSHIPS
1. Stay in touch with your friends and make it a point to spend time with people other than your partner.
2. Stay involved in activities that you enjoy. Don't stop doing things that you enjoy or that make you feel good about yourself.
3. Make new friends. Increase your support network.
4. Consider looking into resources at your school or in the community. Think about joining a support group or calling a crisis line.
Safety at School:
1. Try not to be alone. Let your friends know what is happening and have them walk to classes and spend time during lunch with you.
2. Tell teachers, counselors, coaches, or security guards about what is happening. Have them help you be safe.
3. Change your routine. Don't always come to school the same way or arrive at the same time. Always ride to school with someone. If you take the bus, try to have someone with you.
4. Consider rearranging your class schedule.
5. Always keep extra change or a phone card with you so you can make phone calls.
6. Consider applying for an order of protection.
Safety at Home:
1. Try not to be alone.
2. Consider telling your parents or other family members about what is happening. They can help you screen your telephone calls or visitors.
3. Make a list of important phone numbers. Included on this list should be emergency numbers like 911, as well as supportive friends who you call when you are upset. Put the numbers of crisis lines on the list.
4. If you are alone at home, make sure the doors are locked and the windows are secure.
Safety With Your Partner:
1. Try not to be alone with your partner, or to be alone in an isolated or deserted location. Go out to public places.
2. Try to double date or to go out with a group of people.
3. Let other people know what your plans are and where you will be.
4. Try not to be dependent on your partner for a ride.
5. Always keep extra change or a phone card with you in case you need to make a phone call.
6. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If you feel you are in danger, call the police. Get help immediately. Do not minimize your fears.
Safety When Breaking Up With Your Partner:
1. Break up with your partner in a public place.
2. Tell other people that you plan to break up with your partner. Let them know where you will be.
3. Arrange to call a friend or a counselor after you talk with your partner so that you can debrief about what happened.
For more information on teen dating violence, see www.edvp.org