April Daniels Hussar, SELF magazine
You may have heard about 18-year-old Alexandra Kogut, the State University of New York Brockport freshman found brutally beaten to death in her dorm room last weekend; her boyfriend, 21-year-old Clayton Whittemore, has been charged with her murder.
And while this story is exceptionally tragic, far too many young women (and men for that matter) are putting themselves at risk of winding up like Kogut. According to new study out of Ohio State University (OSU), two-thirds of college-aged men and women reported some type of abuse during their teenage years.
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Plus, one-third of young adults who reported being victims of dating violence as teenagers had two or more abusive partners, Amy Bonomi, Ph.D., M.P.H., an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science at OSU, tells HealthySELF.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so we asked Bonomi how YOU can tell if your relationship is unhealthy or abusive. Here are four red flags to look for:
1. Jealousy. "Jealousy is a chronic theme in violent relationships," says Bonomi, explaining that it typically involves your partner
--accusing you of having affairs with other men.
--getting angry or upset if you talk to other men.
--getting angry or upset if you wear "provocative clothes."
--getting angry or upset if you talk to friends, family members, pets, etc.
--getting angry or upset if you don't spend enough time with him.
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2. Controlling behavior. Bonomi says examples of controlling behavior include giving you specific rules or parameters for what to wear, what to eat and whom to see, and insisting on knowing where you are at all times.
3. Threats. This includes threatening to end the relationship, destroy your reputation and/or to use physical violence if you don't do what he wants, says Bonomi.
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4. Untreated mental health issues, like depression and alcohol and/or drug use.
"All of these flags are typically present in abusers," says Bonomi. If you recognize these signs, and suspect you're in an abusive relationship, it's vitally important to get help. "Talk with a trusted friend, family member, teacher, coach, therapist and/or health care provider," she advises. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support and advice: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
If it's a friend you're worried about, Bonomi suggests you start by asking how she/he is doing and offering a "listening ear." Do not judge or make the recommendation that she "just get out." Women/girls are at highest risk of being killed by an abuser immediately after leaving a relationship, so caution should be used when telling someone in an abusive situation to "just get out," she says.
Taking action could literally mean the difference between life and death. You, and your loved ones, deserve so much better.
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