One in three girls will be in a controlling, abusive dating relationship before she graduates from high school – from verbal or emotional abuse to sexual abuse or physical battering. Is your daughter in danger?
Dr. Jill Murray speaks on the topic of dating violence at high schools around the country, reaching more than 10,000 students, teachers, and counsellors each year. In every school she visits, she is approached by teenage girls in miserable relationships who, when confronted with the option of breaking up with the boy, exclaim, "But I love him!"
Many young women – and their parents, aren't even aware of the indications of a potentially abusive relationship. What's most alarming is that these warning signs are also some of the behaviours that girls find most flattering:
A boy pages and calls a girl often – but as a form of control, not affection.
He wants to spend all his time with her, but eventually won't allow her to spend time with her friends.
He says "I love you" very early in the relationship.
These behaviours can escalate into blaming, isolating, manipulating, threatening, humiliation, and sexual and physical abuse.
In But I Love Him, Dr. Murray identifies these controlling, abusive patterns of behaviour and helps you get your daughter out of the relationship without alienating her. You will learn what draws her to this type of relationship, why she has a hard time talking to you about it, the special barriers teens face when breaking off a relationship, and what's going on in the mind of a teen abuser. Dr. Murray will help you show your teen what a respectful relationship looks like, and teach her the importance of respecting herself. edition.
- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st pbk. ed edition (September 18, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060957298
- ISBN-13: 978-0060957292
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
Not Only for parents, Teenage Daughters should read this too
First Time A Victim, Second Time You Volunteered
With the comments that I’ve heard, lately, I feel compelled to review this excellent book, in hopes that those whom I haven’t spoken to find something in both this review, and in Dr. Murray’s book, to guide them to earn trust in themselves.
To earn trust in themselves does require you to accept the reality of now, and to admit what you may have up to now not admitted (If you have trouble doing this, this admission is a great beginning).
Let’s start with what makes abusive relationships different from teen girls, versus women who are much older.
With teen girls the priorities are:
1. Peer approval (this is usually about image, not reality)
2. Gender-role expectations (some girls are taught that
having a boyfriend is analogous to being lovable)
3. Lack of experience (as a teen, you are trying to work out a
life that hasn’t been lived)
4. Little contact with adult resources (with mother’s feeling
threatened by their daughter’s youth, many daughters have
difficulty finding role models)
5. Less access to societal resources (most require parental
6. Less access to the legal leverage (the laws assume that the
daughter doesn’t need this support)
7. She fantasizes about who he could be, with her help
(See, “The Princess Who Believes in Fairy Tales”)
8. Once in the relationship, she decides that she can’t get
out of it, even if she wanted to (See, “My Mother/Myself)
9. She doesn’t know that both of them are willing participants
in the struggle to be with someone, while avoiding their
fear of recreating their past dramas (See, “Narcissim”)
10. Unspoken social pressure has taught her to avoid herself,
that is avoid being visible to other girls, by going out of
her way to make a guy her project (See, “101 Lies Men Tell
Women: And Why Women Believe Them”)
For the older women, the challenge is:
1. Social pressure to prove that she is a woman, as defined by the “invisible woman out there”
2. Financial needs
3. Blaming her inadequacies (imagined or real
4. Her decision that her needs are too great
5. Domestic Violence professional’s expect her to experience
this again, at least 7 times, before she will be free, or
This is a wonder book, written for parents, but certainly good for young girls to also read.
What I did not see in this book is something that I have seen again and again from those who are abused is that in the moment that the abuser attacks the girl’s worthiness, what she does is choke off her own breathing. This causes her to cut off her thoughts. This also causes her punish herself for the idea of her being angry at what he is doing to her.
For all the teen girls who think that his jealousy, possessiveness, manipulation, or attempts to isolate you from being close to others is cute, or loving you, I invite you to assert these 5 statements, with unwavering conviction,each time you experience his jealousy, possessivesness, manipulation, or attempts to isolate you:
1. I don’t like what is happening to me.
2. There is something here that does violence to me.
3. I deserve better than this.
4. I can do something about this.
5. I will do something about this, now.
6. I will not allow this to happen to me, again.
Besides these statements, and reading this book, I invite teen girls and women to stop asking yourselves, “Why does he act this way?”
When you spend time asking questions about why he is treating you terribly, you make his problems into being your responsibility. And this means that you will be trapped into believing that you are inadequate, because you cannot control his self-concept. You can, however, influence the boy/man’s behavior, by reading books like Dr. Murray’s book, as you make the commitment to love yourself.
By reading a book like this one, and truly making the commitment to master the lessons in this book, you will make sure that less girls and women are abused, because when the lessons of this book become part of your core identity, you will recognize the signs of abuse; you will speak up for yourself, in the present moment; you will congruently tell the guy that his issues are not your issues; and you will show him that not every female is willing to pity his unwillingness to face his fear of his fears – and the world will change.
For adolescent girls — and all of us who love them
In this book, Dr. Jill Murray begins with the assertion that love is a behavior. She outlines and describes dating behaviors that are intentional acts of power and control – the hallmarks of an abusive relationship. In contrast, she also provides descriptions and examples of healthy, loving relationship – one with equality at its core.
Against this backdrop, Dr. Murray provides a practical guide for protecting our teen daughters from unhealthy, abusive relationships. The reader learns how to identify abusive behaviors and potential abusers; importantly, s/he will also discover the traits and family backgrounds that can put an adolescent girl at higher risk for entering abusive relationships. For the concerned parent whose daughter (or son) is in an abusive relationship, Dr. Murray offers a wealth of ideas and resources for intervention. In short, this book offers sound advice for those of us who want to help our adolescent girls take back the personal power and the control that they may have given over to their abusive boyfriends.
While this book is written primarily for concerned parents, it holds practical value for social workers, teachers, and practitioners who work with adolescent girls and their romantic partners.
Dating Violence and Adolescents
Consciousness-raising can be the first step in a journey of social change. Speaking primarily to parents, the purported agents of social change vis à vis dating violence in adolescents, through the pages of “but i love him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships,” psychotherapist Dr. Jill Murray seems to translate transcripts of her public speaking engagements from speech-to-text. While this reviewer has not had the opportunity to hear Dr. Murray speak, one might presuppose from reading her book that she is persuasive.
Dr. Murray advises parents on how to identify dating abuse in their teenager(s). Next, she describes three levels of violence (which she believes may be sequential): verbal and emotional abuse; sexual abuse; and physical abuse. Based on her work in a Southern California battered women’s and children’s shelter with clients aged eighteen to twenty-two, Dr. Murray constructs practical questionnaires; profiles of abusers and abused; and lists of some “fundamental truths,” behaviors, and concepts regarding dating violence in teens. For instance, she states, “Abuse is a learned behavior . . . . from seeing it used as an effective tool of control–usually in the home in which [the abusive boyfriend] grew up . . . . and [if] it is not addressed, it will continue and may escalate, regardless of whether the boy appears to be Mr. Wonderful” (74-75).
In a subsequent chapter, Dr. Murray compares and contrasts “infatuation,” “addictive love,” and “mature love.” Most readers will find this review to be very useful, regardless of their ages. (For further insights, I highly recommend “Sex, Love, or Infatuation: How Can I Really Know?” by Ray E. Short.)
Leaving aside her rather abstract and unarticulated assertion that “love is a behavior,” this reviewer believes that Dr. Murray posits correctly that “[f]amily dynamics are perhaps the most important indicator of whether a girl will choose an abusive boyfriend” (80). In “How to Prevent Abuse in the First Place: Family Dynamics,” Dr. Murray cautions the parent/reader that “[t]his may be the most difficult chapter in this book for you to read. I want you to know up front that I appreciate that, and my intention is not to blame, judge, criticize, or call you a bad guy. By addressing the elements of parental responsibility that ‘helped’ your daughter get into her abusive relationship with her boyfriend, we can begin to see a way to help her get out” (115). Thus, although one’s daughter may have “chosen” to be in relationship with an abusive boyfriend, (and Dr. Murray does not allow for abdication of choice here), she may not have chosen freely. As well, though parents hold shared responsibility with their daughter(s) for this choice, parents may not have chosen freely all of their own behaviors either, as is true in the case of “choosing” to stay in a situation of domestic violence, perhaps with the compounding factors of substance abuse and/or mental illness. Further, as psychotherapist and parent, Dr. Murray shares in this struggle through her use here of the pronoun “we.”
However, Dr. Murray’s rhetoric holds some tension; sometimes one gets the message that she is talking “at” parents rather than “with” parents. Such may be the inadvertent case when a book evolves from the lecture circuit rather than when a book leads an author to the lecture circuit. While a “lecturing” tone may be entirely appropriate when the medium used is abridged audiocassette, it seems out of place in a text on such a sensitive topic. There is an unevenness here: for the most part, Dr. Murray speaks only to parents, yet there are instances where she says to show “parts” of the book to teens. Anyone who is the parent of a teen, or who has counseled teens, can attest that teens “turn off” when they feel patronized.
Further proof that this book is primarily rhetorical rests in iteration of slews of undocumented statistics. To name but a few: “It is estimated that one in three girls will have an abusive dating experience by the time she graduates from high school” (7); “As many as 50 percent of dating women suffer physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from their dating partners” (9); “Alcohol use among teenage males is now at an all-time high. The use of crystal meth is out of control” (72); “. . .we are now aware that chronic use of marijuana or crystal meth causes rage and paranoia” (73); “While we know that 97 percent of physical abuse is perpetrated by men and boys, women and girls emotionally abuse others quite often” (131). Further, there are pages with whole lists of statistics and assertions that are neither referenced nor documented. Yes, this book does fall within the self-help genre. No, this classification is not an excuse for failure to note sources. Chapter notes may be placed at the end of the book so as not to disturb the narrative flow. If one seeks to educate and enlighten readers, and thereby to create social change, one must give them a full set of tools for the toolbox.
Excellent “Resources” do append the narrative. With the exception of internet resources, which are limited to a few keywords for each subject heading, Dr. Murray offers parents, counselors, teens, and other concerned persons a selected compendium of books and organizations (including hotlines). There is also a good index.
In conclusion, with the reservations as stated above, I highly recommend this book. It is another important contribution to the literature on domestic violence: it continues the discussion as to the causes and prevention of this very serious societal problem; it gives practical advice for medical, legal, and psychological assistance; and it describes healthy dating relationships and the role of self-esteem. I think parents will find hope here.
Teens like it too
EXCELLENT WORDS OF WISDOM
The book points out many of the danger signals, and examines the various types of abuse: physical, verbal, emotional and sexual. The author also talks about the healing process for those who have been abused. When you stop to ponder the issue that one in three girls will be in a controlling, manipulative or abusive realtionship of some nature before they graduate from high school, it is enough to put both parents and teen-aged daughters on their guard. The aftermath of long-term abuse is devastating and horrendous beyond words; the emotional scars remain long after the physical wounds disappear. Quite often those scars never disappear and affect our self-image, our families and our future relationships. We have all heard that “love is blind” but there is also much truth to the statement that “there is none so blind as those who will not see.” Denial is not always a wonderful thing. True love never physically hurts; it emotionally nurtures, heals and protects. As the reader will learn through the pages of this book, there are various kinds of love, but there is a huge difference between infatuation, addictive love and true lasting love. Teens, although they truly believe at the time they are madly “in love”, are quite often in love with the idea of being in love. Being young, they have not yet had the opportunities or experiences to distinguish the difference between first love and overactive hormones, and mature and lasting love.
The author uses real-life examples to drive her point home; they are true stories that go on in some part of the country, every minute of every hour of every day. If this book helps only one young woman (and there are bound to be many more) then the author may not only have prevented a tragedy, but perhaps saved a human life. This is highly recommended reading material and worth a universe of stars! Hats off to Jill Murray for telling it like it is.
Insightful for Parents and Teens
However, not all relationships in which one of the partners is controlling turn violent. Dr. Murray touches on this fact very briefly, so briefly that you might miss it if you blink. I’ve seen girls stay in a controlling relationship over and over and over. The guy isn’t violent, so it’s even more difficult for her to see how he’s destroying her happiness and she goes back to him again and again. I was hoping this book would give a little more attention to girls in non-violent but controlling relationships. That said, it was still enlightening and filled with important info for parents and teens.”