And then when things don’t go well, there’s all the put downs on Facebook,” says Hunter. “Technological abuse is power control through digital means,” says Uribe.
Adults coo about puppy love, or shrug at the infatuations of teenagers. Flip through a mag: See 17-year-old Kardashian sib Kylie Jenner pairing up with 25-year-old rapper Tyga. Or, turn on the radio: Hear Justin Bieber crooning to his “prize possession.” Add in 24/7 access to hand-held technology, including apps that geo-track a sweetheart’s every move, and it is no wonder that nearly 20,000 13- to 17-year-olds reached out to the hotline last year.
Often, from our perspective, these hot and heavy love affairs are like fireworks. At best, we’re talking about students distracted from learning.
“Females are just as clingy and abusive as men,” says Hunter.
Also important to keep in mind: same-sex relationships are not immune from abuse.
Or is it an act of control to isolate a victim from friends?
“You can see the partner grab their hand in that way,” says New York college student Trendha Hunter, a member of loveisrespect’s teen advisory board.Deloris Rome Hudson’s experience is even more haunting: She remembers a popular girl who was dominated by her drop-out boyfriend, and then strangled.Of course, Rome Hudson mourns the victim, but she also thinks: “Here’s this guy, and I don’t know what would have helped him, but that’s one I wish I would have gotten to…” But most teen relationships are not violent.Join your students in clicking through the “Relationship Spectrum” on the loveisrespect website.It reveals different dating scenarios—“your partner randomly stops by your job, even though you told them it makes you uncomfortable”— and asks students to choose whether the scenario indicates a healthy, unhealthy, or abusive relationship.“You have this unique and powerful connection to students that not a lot of other adults do,” Colomé says.