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Teen Health

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Am I in an Unhealthy or Abusive Relationship?

What If I Am in an Unhealthy or Abusive Relationship?

Some teens involved in unhealthy or abusive relationships think it's their fault. They may feel helpless to stop the abuse, or feel threatened or humiliated. You must understand that nothing you say or do gives anyone the right to abuse, intimidate, or hurt you.

Trust your gut feelings. If something feels uncomfortable or wrong with the relationship, then it is not healthy. You must end the relationship, even though it's difficult to leave someone you care about. And because it may be difficult to leave, you will need help. Here are some tips for ending an unhealthy or abusive relationship:

  • Get help immediately. Don't keep your concerns to yourself.
  • Break the silence. Talk to someone you trust, such as a parent, teacher, or a school counselor or nurse. Tell them what the other person has done to you and how they treat you.
  • The law mandates that certain adults (teachers, counselors, doctors, social workers, and coaches or social activity leaders) report neglect or abuse to the police or to government protective services. If you'd like to talk to an adult anonymously, call a crisis help line in your area or call the National Center for Victims of Crime help line at 1-800-FYI-CALL.


Protect Yourself From Unhealthy or Abusive Relationships

While teens can find themselves in an unhealthy or abusive relationship through no fault of their own, it's important to avoid letting these relationships become a pattern. Try these suggestions to ensure that all of your relationships are healthy and beneficial:

  • Build a healthy self-image. Teens with high self-esteem and a positive self-image are less likely to become involved in unhealthy or abusive relationships. Work on being confident, satisfied, and secure within yourself.
  • Don't let a relationship become a burden. Again, trust your gut feeling. If you feel that a relationship is too intense or burdensome, or that the other person needs too much from you, step back from the relationship or break it off altogether.
  • Trust your family. Have a close relationship with your family so you have a built-in support system that will help you in all of your relationships.
  • Be informed. Learn as much as you can about abuse, dating violence, and healthy relationships, so you can help yourself -- and others, such as friends and younger siblings.

Relationships are an important part of life, and they should be special and fun. Know the warning signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Avoid any relationship that doesn't feel right. Most important, learn to feel good about yourself to increase the chances of positive and healthy relationships.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on February 09, 2014
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