Concerned and Afraid
By Willie & Elaine Oliver
I am in my third year of university and have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for about two years. He is a Christian studying to be an engineer. He is very smart, studies diligently, and encourages me to do well in school. He often gets angry when we disagree on issues of little consequence. He even screams at me. Last week he pushed me while we were discussing a matter we feel differently about. I am concerned and afraid of his behavior; despite the fact that he quickly apologized and promised he would never do it again. What do you think?—Christina
Abuse in relationships is a difficult topic for anyone to speak about. Everyone should develop a better understanding of abuse, and find out what resources are available to support people who may have such a need.
As smart as your boyfriend is, he obviously has difficulty managing his anger. This is a situation for which he will need professional help. It is easy to be fooled when you’re in a relationship with a person who has many of the traits one looks for in a potential mate. God can heal and forgive anything, and He can certainly do so with your boyfriend. However, while your boyfriend is healing—if he chooses to get help—you may get hurt more than you already have.
Here are some sobering facts about abuse among young adults in relationships:
Women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.1
One in five teens in a serious relationship reports having been hit, slapped, or pushed by a partner.
Fourteen percent of teens report their boyfriends or girlfriends threatened to harm them or themselves to avoid a breakup.
Studies indicate that as a dating relationship becomes more serious, the potential for, and nature of, violent behavior also escalates.
Date rape accounts for almost 70 percent of sexual assaults reported by adolescent and college age women; 38 percent of those women are between 14 and 17 years old.2
While the need to be in a close relationship with another person is how God created us, relationships are complicated. You have to be aware of what God says about love. The way you are being treated by the person you are dating is a good indicator of the way that person will treat you when you are married. Healthy relationships follow the principles of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: patience, kindness, self-control, and many other virtues. True love will not hurt you.
Think seriously about terminating this relationship. While it is a decision only you can make, we hope you will do so before it is too late. As a university student you should have access to the counseling services at your institution. You may also get help from your pastor or campus chaplain. Speaking to your parents about this matter is also a good idea, so you can receive their guidance and support.
God is the source of all love. He loves you more than you could ever ask, think, or imagine. Trust God with all your relationships and your quest for finding the right spouse. Remember, God has promised to supply all your needs (Phil. 4:19).
Willie Oliver, PhD, CFLE, an ordained minister and family sociologist, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
1Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the US 1993-2004, 2006.
2Information provided by Oregon Law Center.