Although Radio Disney sensation Chris Brown allegedly beat girlfriend Rihanna, he has pleaded not guilty to two felonies -- assault and making criminal threats. Is this a "teachable moment" for moms? Here's what psychologist Dr. Cara Gardenswartz has to say.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Cara Gardenswartz, Ph.D: Surveys report that one in five teens who've been in serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner. One in five boyfriends had threatened violence if presented with a break-up.
Lessons for our kids:
The disturbing story about Rihanna and Chris Brown and media attention can lead to conversations about domestic violence and emotional abuse. We can teach our children that violence is never acceptable, and discuss what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in relationships. We can talk to our children about how difficult it is for people to leave situations.
Questions to ask your teens:
- What do you consider a violent relationship -- emotionally and physically?
- What does a healthy relationship look like and what does an unhealthy relationship look like? A romantic one? A peer one? A relationship with an adult?
- What would you do if you were in Rihanna's situation? The moment the abuse happened? Afterwards?
- Would you get back together with Chris if he apologized?
- Is hitting ever acceptable?
- Is it Rihanna's fault at all?
- What are ways you can deal with your anger?
- Is there a difference between being threatened by someone you love vs. a stranger?
- What is date rape?
Ask your teens what they consider abuse -- then educate them on it:
Types of Abuse:
Physical: Hitting, pushing, biting, punching, choking...
Any type of touch that feels uncomfortable
Emotional: Cursing, swearing, attacks on self-esteem, blaming, criticizing your thoughts and feelings, controlling someone through manipulation
Psychological: Threatening, throwing, smashing, breaking things, hiding things
Sexual: Any non-consenting sexual act or behavior
You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your boyfriend:
- Tries to isolate you from family or friends
- Continually criticizes you
- Acts jealous or possessive
- Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with
- Punishes you by withholding affection
- Threatens to hurt you
You may be in a physically abusive relationship if your partner has ever:
- Thrown objects or damaged property
- Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you
- Kept you from physically leaving a situation
- Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you
- Prevented you from calling police
You may be in a sexually abusive relationship if your partner:
- Wants you to dress in a sexual way
- Calls you sexual names in a demeaning or provocative way
- Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts
- Held you down during sex
How to get out of a domestic violence situation:
- Tell your partner this is not acceptable
- Whether or not he listens to you, walk away.
- Don't encourage an argument -- it will escalate
- Tell your peers and adults
- Call the police
- Make sure you are in a physically safe place
- Get medical help if needed
- End the relationship -- PERIOD
- There is no room for couples therapy -- it is contraindicated for abusive relationships because it can escalate abuse
Do you think the Rihanna-Chris Brown situation is a "teachable moment" for moms?
|Dr. Cara Gardenswartz is a licensed clinical psychologist (License #PSY18399) who provides therapy to adults and couples, and specializes in group therapy. She has over 16 years of education, training, and experience in her field. She received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to earn her Master's and Doctorate in Psychology at the UCLA. In addition to working with patients, Dr. Gardenswartz is a script consultant for television and film. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.|