1 in 3 teenagers experiences relationship abuse. Relationship abuse crosses all racial, economic and cultural backgrounds. Unfortunately, I know a bit about this sort of abuse, and I want to let you know that you are not alone if you are someone that is being abused. That’s important. It can be hard letting anyone know about the “real” relationship you and your boyfriend have because the abuse can get even worse. Economic abuse, or abuse with money, can cause a lot of issues in a relationship, even if you’re a teen. Here’s my story…
Okay, so I started hanging out with this guy when I was 14. He was 15, hot, a grade older than me, had a job, and was very popular. Dating him was great because when I started my freshman year at the same high school as him, he was a sophomore and already well-known. Plus, people thought I was older than I was because I was always hanging around him and his friends. It all started great but moved pretty quickly.
Once we had been together for about 6 weeks, he gave me $500 for my birthday. For our first anniversary, he bought me a huge sapphire ring. He would tell EVERYONE that he got me the jewelry and make sure that anyone we came into contact with knew that I was his. He took me shopping and picked out clothes for me. I didn’t even realize how much I started changing. In the back of my mind, I always felt like I owed him something because he had given me so much. My parents always told me that we were getting too serious, but I didn’t feel that way. I didn’t realize that his behavior was how he started controlling me.
When I turned 16, I started thinking about getting a part-time job so I could get a car and pay for my own phone. He was always angry at my parents for making me get off the phone because they were getting overages on their bill. He told me that getting a job was stupid idea because he would never get to see me if we were both working. I told him that we could hang out at school or on the nights that we were both off since he had a car. He wasn’t happy, but I got a job anyway where all my friends worked. He came into my job constantly. He ended up getting me fired because my boss said that he was a distraction to me and my coworkers.
After I was fired, I couldn’t pay for my phone anymore so he got his parents to add me to their family plan. He agreed to pay for my unlimited minutes and texts. He would grab my phone out of my purse so he could see exactly who I had been texting. When I got pissed at him, he’d say, “Well, you’re not paying for the phone anyway.” He’d text my friends back from my phone pretending to be me and saying things that I would never say. If I was talking to or texting guy friends, he’d call them and threaten them. Everyone I knew well starting saying that I had changed and that I was “all up him.” He’d text me all the time so that I couldn’t sleep. My grades started slipping so my parents were angry with me. I couldn’t talk to them because they would tell me that they “told me so.” All my friends started talking about how they were afraid he would “go psycho” on them, so people started avoiding me since he was always somewhere nearby. Even though my Facebook showed this super-happy couple, I felt like I couldn’t talk to anyone. I felt isolated and alone. We finally broke up after a year and a half because I found out he had been cheating on me.
My story isn’t different from a lot of teens. This guy was my first serious boyfriend, and I didn’t know what was normal and what wasn’t for a relationship. Now I realize that there were so many things unequal in our relationship. He used his money, social status and technology to influence, monitor and control me. Over and over, he showed a pattern of being jealous and possessive, and he tried to put me down in front of others. Even though he would tell me that he loved me, his intentions were to make me do what he wanted me to do. I wish I could tell my friends now what would have helped me then. If you have a friend that is dealing with an abusive relationship, let them know you are concerned about them. So many people gossiped about me, but none of my friends actually asked me if I was okay. That would have helped me a lot. Need more advice? Call 1.800.334.2836 or http://www.loveisrespect.org.