Relationship abuse has many early warning signals

MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) - It might start with a compliment, like "You look nice when you wear that outfit."

But it might end with controlling behavior, even physical abuse.

Teens at John Marshall High School have learned the warning signs of an abusive relationship.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

A girl might be flattered.

Her boyfriend seems to want to be with her constantly.

But that's one of many red flags.

"Rushing the relationship is always something people should look at and really consider as a warning sign," said Trish Flanigan, director of the Family Violence Prevention Program at the Wheeling YWCA. "That's just one. Trying to keep you away from your friends or your family. Making attempts to control you in a lot of different ways, whether it be the makeup that you wear, the clothes that you wear."

At John Marshall, students posted hearts with the real meanings of love not controlling or stalking or abusing.

"Some of the things that are love are just caring about one another, always being there for them, never putting them down," explained Emily Beckett, a senior at JMHS. "Things that aren't love are things like making them feel that they aren't important or controlling them or abusing them in any way."

Some of these behaviors play out on social media and in texts.

"Some teens, their boyfriends or girlfriends, they text each other constantly, and they're on each other's social media, checking up on them constantly," said Michelle Shia, also a senior.

"I've seen students receiving their boyfriend's or girlfriend's text messages at the same time that they get them, linked by apps so they can read exactly what their girlfriend or boyfriend is getting at the same time," noted Michelle Shia, Teen Dating Violence Awareness facilitator. "I've seen students getting 50-60 texts in one class period from their boyfriend."

Shia said they may tell them who they can talk to.

They may try to distance them from their parents.

Experts said two websites give some examples of behavior that may seem innocent, but which is in fact controlling and abusive.

They urge teens to log on to loveisrespect.org and thatsnotcool.com.

They can always call the Family Violence Prevention Program at 1 (800) 698-1247.

It is answered 24 hours a day.


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