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    Teen Dating Violence is Real

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | February 14th, 2016

    Teen Dating Violence is Real

    I was not allowed to date in high school. My parents felt it was too hard to focus on school and have a relationship. They felt that it was impossible for a young person to understand love. This is not to say that I was not interested in boys. The diary I kept during that time shows that my hormones were raging. Looking back, I am happy they had that rule in place.

    Now that I have children, I wanted to impose the same rules. It worked for me, so I figured why not. My last child literally called the rule ‘stupid’. She reminded me that we live in a different time and that I needed to stop living in the past.  When you hear that one in three teenagers in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become adults, you just want to  wrap your arms around your child and protect them.

    My husband and I realized that we needed to take different approach.  Instead of making a hard and fast rule, we explained that our preference would be not to date while in high school and explained the rationale behind our decision. We discussed what it meant to be in a healthy relationship and hoped that if they found someone they were interested in they would feel comfortable talking with us.

    February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  Teen violence does not discriminate – all teens are at risk. The warning signs of a relationship heading in the wrong direction include:

    • Excessive jealousy
    • Constant checking in with you or making you check in with him or her
    • Attempts to isolate you from friends and family
    • Insulting or putting down people that you care about
    • Is too serious about the relationship too quickly
    • Has had a lot of bad prior relationships – and blames all of the problems on the previous partners
    • Is very controlling. This may include giving you orders, telling you what to wear, and trying to make all of the decisions for you
    • Blames you when he or she treats you badly by telling you all of the ways you provoked him or her
    • Does not take responsibility for own actions
    • Has an explosive temper (“blows up” a lot)
    • Pressures you into sexual activity with which you are not comfortable
    • Has a history of fighting, hurting animals, or brags about mistreating other people
    • Believes strongly in stereotypical gender roles for males and females
    • You worry about how your partner will react to the things you say or you are afraid of provoking your partner
    • Owns or uses weapons
    • Refuses to let you to end the relationship


    We can make a difference. If you or someone you know is experiencing dating violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-700-SAFE (7233)

    For more information, please read the fact sheet from the CDC – Understanding Teen Dating Violence

    You can also read my previous blog:  What Does Love Look Like?

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    With her trademark wit and straightforward communication, Dr. Osuagwu continues to dole out valuable medical advice using the letter form and addressing women’s health conditions and issues in a method that was praised for its innovative approach in her earlier award-winning book, Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice from a Gynecologist. In this book, each letter is paired with reference sources and statistics about the condition that is the subject of the letter.

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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.

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