Get Healthy Carson City: Love shouldn’t hurt: Recognizing the signs of dating violence
Carson City Health and Human Services
This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
It’s February, and love is in the air. With Valentine’s Day approaching, many people are focused on finding the best way to show their affection to their partner. But what happens when love isn’t what it’s supposed to be? What if violence is involved and someone is at risk for physical or psychological harm? Since February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, this column brings attention to some of the warning signs of dating violence and highlight some of the resources in our community that are there to help victims of abusive or controlling relationships.
All relationships are different and it can be difficult to identify a violent or controlling relationship at first. However, there are patterns that can point to an imbalance of power and possible violence in a relationship.
Often, abusive behavior occurs in cycles, with an initial “honeymoon phase” where the couple seems very much in love. This is followed by a tension-building time when the relationship becomes strained.
Finally, there’s an explosion in which one partner lashes out. This may include emotional, verbal, sexual or physical abuse. Then the abuser apologizes and the relationship returns to the happy “honeymoon” period and the cycle begins again. Often, it repeats over and over, either because the pattern isn’t recognized, the person being abused believes the abuser when he or she says they will change, or the partner who’s being abused feels trapped or afraid to leave.
Sometimes, people in relationships mistake controlling behavior for love. They think things like, “He’s only checking up on me because he loves me,” or, “He’s jealous that someone else looked at me,” or, “He won’t let me see my friends because he loves me so much he wants me to spend all of my time with him.”
Often, the victims blame themselves for the abuser’s bad behavior. They rationalize the abuse by thinking they have done something to deserve it, they have provoked their abuser, or it’s their fault. The truth is, it’s never OK for someone to take out their anger or frustration on their partner by being violent.
Here are 10 of the most common abusive behaviors to look out for:
Checking your cell phone or email without permission; constantly putting you down; extreme jealousy or insecurity; explosive temper; isolating you from family or friends; making false accusations; mood swings; physically hurting you in any way; possessiveness; telling you what to do.
If you or someone you care about is in an abusive relationship, please get help. Turn to a trusted adult — a teacher, counselor, healthcare provider, or religious leader can all be good resources. Carson City Health and Human Services’ nurses, disease intervention specialists, and Human Services case managers are mandatory reporters of violence and will direct a victim to help and services. Advocates to End Domestic Violence has a 24-hour crisis line for those who need help or who want to escape violence. The number to call is 775-883-7654.
For more information on dating violence, visit http://www.breakthecycle.org. For more information about other Health Department services, check out our website at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us at http://www.facebook.com/cchhs.