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The Stuff that’s Hard to See

By AnnaBeth Crittenden, Berry College (17c)

I really love Netflix. It’s really embarrassing and kind of a bad habit, but it’s so convenient to have a sitcom playing in the background while you do your homework. I just finished Gilmore Girls (I’m obsessed) and I’m now watching Parks and Recreation (because Amy Poehler is life).

But in my long history of watching TV shows and movies on Netflix, something began bothering me: the relationships. Now, I’m all for love and romance in TV shows; that’s why it sucks that so many of these movies and TV shows glorify emotional abusive relationships.  

Have you noticed that in many of these shows, the guy stalks the girl, or puts her down, or humiliates her and she goes back to him?!? That’s not okay! In fact, that’s emotional abuse.  

Whoa, hold on AnnaBeth…what even is emotional abuse? And how does it relate to these sitcoms you keep talking about? And what’s your favorite TV show?

I promise, I will answer all of your questions.

What is emotional abuse? Simply put is any act that can diminish the sense of someone’s identity, dignity, and self-worth. These acts can include yelling, mocking, threats, intimidation, and humiliation. And, since these acts are usually paired with loving words and gentle control, it’s hard to tell if the relationship is actually abusive.

Honestly, emotional abuse is one of the harder forms to define. But it all boils down to one thing: if your relationship is making you feel worthless, or powerless, or guilty that you spend time apart it might be time to take some steps away.

Let’s look at how this unfolds in some famous movies and sitcoms.

  1. Friends

Let me start by saying, I love Friends. It’s one of my absolute favorite TV shows and Chandler is my spirit animal. But, we’ll leave Chandler out for a couple minutes. I want to talk about Ross and Rachel. I know that they are one of the most famous couples (and on TV Guide’s Best TV Couples of All Time), but even from the beginning of their relationship, Ross showed some signs of emotional abuse.  In season 3, Ross gets jealous. Rachel is gaining more success in her life and work and Ross can’t handle it.  

He starts attempting to control her communication, he tries to keep her away from work, he shows up to her office (while she is working) to remind her of his presence. This is not okay! And, even worse, his jealousy and possessiveness continues even when they’re not in the relationship.  But, at the end of the series, per rom-com rules, they end up together and Ross’s jealous behavior is never addressed.

  1. Gilmore Girls

This is another show I absolutely love. I relate so much to Lorelai Gilmore (in fact, I’m currently sipping on my own cup of coffee). But we need to talk about Rory’s first boyfriend, Dean. He is portrayed as the “nice boy” and the “perfect first boyfriend.” And that’s super dangerous because he is not the perfect boyfriend. He actually shows several signs of emotional abuse.

There’s one episode where Lorelai goes away for the weekend and Rory has the house to herself. She plans the dream night of doing laundry, watching TV, and eating takeout (sounds like a dream, right?).  But Dean doesn’t see it that way. Instead, he gets angry with Rory, basically demanding that she hang with him instead of having a night to herself. And when she asks him not to be mad he says, “I’m confused, but I’m not mad. I’m a saint, but I’m not mad.”

Ummm…so Dean’s a saint for letting his girlfriend spend an evening away from him? Really?

Throughout their relationship, Dean also will routinely call Rory all the time, even to the point where he leaves her 10 voicemail messages. This constant control and constant need to know a current location is not a good sign.

  1. Twilight

First of all, is Twilight even a thing? I don’t even know anymore. But, even if it’s not it is probably the PRIME example of an emotionally abusive relationship. I mean, the man literally stalks Bella, watches her while she sleeps, and attempts to control her EVERY move. And somehow, about 7 years ago it was one of the most cherished and popular love stories. People, you do not want a man to love you like Edward. Don’t fall for a man who tries to control your life and convinces you that you’re nothing without him.

When we constantly see these relationships in the media, we will start to validate them when we see them in our real lives. No relationship should be focused on control; instead, there should be a constant conversation between both people involved.

What other emotionally abusive relationships have you seen in the media? Leave your answer in the comments!

P.S. My favorite sitcom right now is Parks and Rec. What’s yours?


Love Doesn’t Hurt: Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

By Colleen Curlee, LTD PR Intern

Isn’t LOVE what February is supposed to be all about?

The month where love is in the air and happy relationships abound free and beautiful. What is your definition of love? Does it encompass romance, friendship, and trust? Does it involve being happy and satisfied in a relationship where you feel supported and encouraged? Of course it does.

So why is it that…?

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year
  • One in three adolescents in the U.S. a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner
  • Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse
  • 81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or don’t know if it is an issue

So we’re taking steps to change this.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and we are determined to change perceptions of love and dating for teens in the Rome area. We’ll be doing blog posts each week this month to give you the knowledge and inspiration you need to stop TDV from happening, and to help those in abusive relationships redefine love for themselves.

So what do we mean when we say Teen Dating Violence?

Officially, it is defined as “a pattern of behavior that includes physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse used by one person in an intimate relationship to exert power and control over another.”

TDV is not an isolated incident.

It is a cycle that takes time to recognize. This is what makes it so dangerous. Have you ever used a helium tank to fill up a balloon? When you first turn the gas on, the balloon immediately puffs up and begins filling with helium. After a moment or two, the movement slows down as the balloon gradually takes on more gas and continues filling up. If you’re not careful, you won’t notice exactly how large that balloon is getting until you finally overload it with gas and it pops – with all the gas exploding outwards. TDV works in a similar cycle that we’ll explain in greater depth throughout this month. The cycle of hurting and power will continue until someone refuses to handle the pressure anymore, with the explosion becoming dangerous and painful for everyone involved.

So, why should you care?

Because TDV can occur anywhere, at any time, and over every medium of communication from social media, to face-to-face conversations, to text messages and phone calls. It could happen to your best friend, your sister, your brother, and even the strongest person you know.

And in 2012, Georgia was ranked first in the nation for having the most incidents of teenage dating violence.

So here’s our challenge to you:

Assess your relationship throughout this month. Encourage a friend to read this blog and decide to assess his or her relationship together. Consider the difference you can make by educating yourself on the warning signs of TDV and by knowing your resources for it you ever become uncomfortable in a relationship. Together, we can stop teenage dating violence in Rome, GA. Look for our next blog post to learn more about the warning signs of teenage dating violence and get on the path toward love that doesn’t hurt.

Share your story and journey with us by using #lovedoesnthurt

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