Could you ever imagine your daughter staying in an abusive relationship…in middle school?
If you’re like most parents, your answer is probably ”No way!”
And therein lays the problem.
Let me explain…
I think one of the biggest mistakes many parents make is assuming thattheir daughters know their value, how they deserve to be treated, and have enough courage and confidence to leave any relationship that becomes abusive.
Unfortunately, that’s not what I’m seeing.
I meet far too many teen girls who don’t value themselves enough to protect themselves.
And some end up in physically and emotionally abusive relationships even in middle school.
February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention month, and I couldn’t let it end without shining a light on this issue.
A Tale of a Toxic Teen Relationship
Check out this letter I received on Instagram from an 8th grade girl who was in one of my classes recently:
“Ms. Jackie, I realized [in your class] that I am in a horrible relationship. Like you said, we started off slow, but now we’re in the ‘Touching Over Clothes’ stage. I hate it honestly. I say no, but he still does cause he makes me feel bad about it.
After the first class, he said, ‘I hope you didn’t decide to wait until marriage to have sex. We’re still doing it at 18.’
He yells at me all the time and hits and pushes me. That’s 75% of the time, but the other 25%, he gets me food & opens the door for me.
I get so scared now. He turns the lights off & closes the door. I hate it so much.
Ughhhhh, I cry 24/7 & when I cry next to him, he yells and says I’m so sensitive & annoying AF.
My mother is taking me to the doctor soon though.
I am a Christian & believe my body is the temple of God. I am putting the brakes on now though & not letting anything else happen.
You taught me about self-love & why I should respect myself. It’s a really toxic relationship though. All my friends want me to leave. I’m too scared to [leave] though.
Every class I cried. You really were able to touch my heart & make me feel good about myself & I think you really saved me.
I really hope that you will come to my high school & speak again. I can’t wait to read your book. I really hope I learn more. Thank you so much. I learned so much.”
Overcoming This Toxic Culture
I am SOOO glad that hearing my message was enough for this young lady to realize she was in an abusive relationship and deserved better than how she was being treated.
I’m assuming her mother is taking her to the doctor because she cries 24/7.
And I applaud her for seeking assistance for her daughter.
But I can’t help but wonder if she realizes the reason her daughter is crying is because she’s in an abusive relationship.
And the truth is this: No girl is exempt from being impacted by a toxic culture that leads girls to believe a toxic relationship is better than no relationship at all.
Which is why I’m trying my best to get in front of as many teen girls as possible with my message to help put a dent in a problem that’s becoming even more pervasive every day.
In the meantime, the following are a few tips to help you protect your daughter:
- Set boundaries on when your daughter can date. In my opinion, middle school is entirely too young for teen girls to be in a relationship.
- Don’t assume your daughter knows the difference between a healthy & an unhealthy relationship. Model what that looks like. And don’t wait until she gets in a relationship to begin teaching her how to recognize when a relationship is unhealthy.
- Find resources for your daughter to show her what she deserves so she will refuse to settle for anything less. My book, 7 Secrets Guys Will Never Tell You: A Teen Girl’s Guide on Love, Sex, and Relationships, will do just that.
Teen girls remain in toxic relationships every day because they don’t value themselves enough to walk away at the first sign of abuse.
Could your daughter be one of them?
Unfortunately, the answer is “YES.”
So please start talking to your daughter about teen dating violence today!
P.S. I pray your daughter never finds herself involved in a toxic relationship. And the best way to protect her is to not only talk to her about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, but to model what being in a healthy relationship looks like. Then be sure to equip her with resources like my book 7 Secrets Guys Will Never Tell You, that will help affirm her worth no matter what her relationship status is.
P.P.S. Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month may be ending, but the violence unfortunately persists. So please share this post on all of your social networks. Knowledge is power and parents need to know they can’t afford to make assumptions when it comes to their daughters and teen dating violence.