Dr. Freda M. Bush, February 2018
In honor of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, I wanted to share a couple of ladies’ stories that I experienced during my practice that show the physical and psychological effects of teen dating violence from a medical standpoint.
Story 1: One night I received a call from the Emergency Room that an 18 year old young lady reported abnormal vaginal bleeding post sexual intercourse. In recording her history, I learned she was a freshman in Junior college and had lost her virginity to her boyfriend that night. During a home alone movie date, things escalated when he asked her about sex. She consented initially, but also confided in him that she was a virgin. As they proceeded in intercourse, the pain convinced her that this was something she did not want to continue, so she told him to stop. Her screams and acts of resistance were disregarded as she attempted to force him off. Later that night she came to the Emergency Room to report symptoms of vaginal bleeding and pain. Upon examination, there were several vaginal lacerations that required stitches, some deeper and longer than others. I knew the stitches would take time to heal, but I couldn’t be sure the psychological damage experienced would be as repairable.
Story 2: A 28 year old female came in to the office for a new patient examination. At the start, she presented with no specific complaints. But in gathering her history, she revealed that as a college freshman she acquired herpes infection during a date rape incident. The occurrence of the incident and infection damaged her ability and confidence in establishing future, genuine relationships because she did not want to discuss her herpes infection or risk giving the infection to anyone. She also expressed feeling too guilty and ashamed to tell any date that she was a victim of rape. Although she may not have presented specific complaints as a new patient with me, it was apparent that her past experience as a teen was still present in the room. She had fallen victim to a form of teen dating violence and her story resulted in one that caused some physical damage as well as long term psychological damage, even as an adult.
Young people need to know that if they have been a victim or a perpetrator of date rape in some form of teen dating violence, the memories and the damage may persist. However, they also need to know that we are working to help guide them in their recovery. We need to reassure them that there are counselors available to help address those short and long term challenges.
This month also, the Mississippi Health Department released a Teen Dating Violence Prevention article titled “Love is Respect”, which emphasized some key points for parents in addressing teen dating violence. Click the link below to view the article. https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/44,0,388,784.html?phr=TeenDating
Parents can do a lot to prevent teen dating violence and abuse in both words and action.
- Start talking with your kids about healthy relationships early before dating.
- Be a role model. Treat your kids and others with respect.
- Encourage open dialogue with your teens. Even if they know right from wrong, it’s important to be accessible to them as they experience daily pressures of teen dating…and possibly violence.
Here are some suggestions for teens that can also work to decrease the chances of teen dating violence.
- Don’t go to parties alone or without some form of supervision present. Hang out with groups of people.
- Don’t go to private places to “make out”.
- Come up with phrases that will help you de-escalate a seemingly hostile situation.
- For guys and girls, don’t wear tight or revealing clothing. They can be dangerously provocative. You can still dress fashionably and also reduce attracting unwanted attention.
The MI Science Department is currently presenting a series of articles on Teen Dating Violence. The first one was published in our Mid-January newsletter. If you missed it, you can find it on our website, both in the “blog” and the “articles” sections. The next one will be published in March. Please read this vital information and share it with others. This topic can’t be over emphasized nor can there be too much information given on how to build healthy relationships. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Our youth and their futures are worth it.