To most, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of the love we have for our friends, family, and most of all, significant others. Unfortunately, while this may seem like nothing but a positive event, with all good things comes a little bit of darkness. The darkness in this case is one that is often pushed under the rug and even stepped on while it’s there. This darkness is the devastating and very prominent occurrence of domestic abuse in young relationships.
Romantic relationships are often seen every couple of feet in the hallways of any typical high school. While many of these relationships can only be defined as innocent puppy love, some are toxic, damaging, emotionally abusive, and in many cases, violent. While these types of relationships may seem rare, they are far more prominent than many are aware of. According to research done by DoSomething.org, approximately 1.5 million high-school students in America alone claim to have been intentionally and physically harmed by a significant other. The same study also shows that females from the ages of 16 to 24 are about 3 times more likely to be abused by an intimate partner than those around them. The issue of teen dating violence is often overlooked, not only by adults, but by those experiencing it as well. Since most schools in America provide little to no education on the subject of healthy relationships, many teens are unaware of how serious domestic abuse is. As well as this, most teens involved in violent relationships either don’t understand the importance of speaking up, or are too afraid to.
Although this issue is not discussed as much as it should be, people often have something to say about it when it is. The obvious feelings towards victims of domestic abuse are understanding, empathy, and support. However, this is not how everyone reacts when having these conversations. A common question asked is “why would anyone stay in an abusive relationship?” While this question comes off somewhat insensitive, the reason people ask it usually comes from feelings of discomfort or lack of education. The answer, though, is not as simple as one may guess.
There are several reasons many individuals make the decision to stay in unhealthy relationships. For many, romantic relationships come with a sense of self-worth that they otherwise don’t feel they have. Relationships also make people feel like they have somewhere to go, especially when their life at home does not fulfill this need. In more serious cases, some stay in abusive relations because they are being threatened to by their abuser. This often keeps victims from speaking up, and makes them feel that they have no choice but to stay in the relationship.
While some teen relationship tend to have their faults, there are still many teens who have kind and loving significant others. These types of loving relationships are the ones we should be celebrating this Valentine’s Day. If you are in or know anyone involved in an abusive relationship, please speak up. Above all, remember that Valentine’s Day should be a day of love and nothing less.