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Get Involved...Teen Dating Violence Awareness

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
The Dating Bill of Rights

I have a right to my own,
separate identity.

I have a right to have my own
friends and hobbies.

I have a right to speak my mind, even if it means disagreeing with my partner.

I have a right to change my mind.

I have a right to express my feelings.

I have a right to decide where
I go and what I do on a date.

I have a right to refuse to do anything that makes me feel uncomfortable.

I have a right to pursue my dreams.

I have a right to live without
fear of my partner.

I have a right to end the
relationship at any time.

The CARA staff would like to thank the "Volunteer Club of Cape May Tech" for their participation in the Clothesline Project and display for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  

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Warning Signs:

Physical abuse in a relationship rarely starts out as severe violence. Some behaviors that show the possibility that a dating partner may eventually become physically violence may include extreme jealousy, blaming others for all problems, never being able to admit to wrongdoing, cruelty to animals, and holding rigid beliefs about sex roles for men and women. The following stories show some warning signs that a boyfriend may get more controlling or violent.

Jealousy: ďMy boyfriend is really crazy about me. He just hates it when I talk to other guys. I tell him theyíre just friends, but he says theyíre all after me. One time we got into a fight because he saw me sitting with another guy in the cafeteria. I tried to tell him we were just studying for a math test, but he said I was lying and slapped me. I guess he gets jealous because he loves me so much.Ē

If someone is jealous we often think itís a complimentólike itís his way of showing he cares. Itís normal to feel jealous now and then, but we canít keep someone from having other friends. No one has the right to control whom we see or whom we choose as friends. A slap (or any kind of violence) is not a sign of love and affection. Itís a sign of control and no one deserves it. We have no right to control what someone does by threatening or hurting them. When we get so mad we want to hit somebody, we should walk away from the situation. When we cool off we can try talking about what happened.

Using Anger and Control: ďLast night I went out for pizza with my girlfriend. She wanted to go to a party at a guyís house, but I wasnít really up for it. She said she was going no matter what I did, so I grabbed her arm and told her she couldnít leave me with nothing to do. She started walking away, so I pulled her hair and yanked her around.  She ran away, yelling she never wanted to see me again.Ē Anyone can get frustrated when things donít go their way, but abusing people we care about to get what we want is never okay. Being hurt by a friendís words or actions doesnít justify using physical force. If you canít handle the situation, walk away and talk it out at another time. No one has the right to make decisions for another person. Itís okay to end a relationship with someone who tries to control you with force.

Abuse at Home: ďMy dad expects my mom to be there when he gets home from work. The other night she had to work overtime, so when she came home she went straight to bed. Dad followed her, screaming that heís sick of her not doing what sheís supposed to. Then he beat her up and stormed out. Later he apologized and promised it wouldnít happen again, but it always does. Thatís just the way he is.Ē Itís normal for parents to get angry sometimes and argue. But hurting or hitting another adult, teenager, or child is wrong. It fact, itís against the law. Hitting people never makes problems go way, and someone can get seriously hurt or even die. If your father or your motherís partner uses violence, they are choosing this behavior to try to control things because they think they have a right to do so. This is wrong. You can choose other ways to solve problems and negotiate in your relationships.

Healthy Relationships:

Arguments in relationships are normal, but using physical violence is never okay. A healthy relationship is one in which partners treat each other with respect, support each otherís goals in life, and expect each other to have their own opinions, feelings, friends, and activities. In an equal relationship decisions are made together, both partners make compromises and admit mistakes, and communication is open and truthful.

Girls: Does your boyfriend strike out at you or make you feel afraid or uncomfortable? Do you change your behavior to try to keep him happy? Are you afraid you will get hurt if you try to end the relationship? Itís important to know that no one has the right to hurt you as a way to control you. Itís against the law for someone to use violence against you. If you get assaulted you can call the police. If you are being abused, talk to a trusted friend or family member, counselor, teacher, or call a battered womenís program in your area. Itís also not okay to treat your boyfriend in abusive ways.

Boys: Do you have a problem controlling your anger? Have you hit or hurt someone you care about? Have you lost friends because of the abusive way you acted? Itís important for you to reject the idea that physical abuse is okayóbefore it gets worse. If you are abusive to a girlfriend, stop it now. Talk to a school counselor and ask for help to change your behavior. Itís also not okay for your girlfriend to treat you in abusive ways.


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