"He's only being mean to you because he likes you."

“He’s only being mean to you because he likes you.”

Every little girl has been told this at least once or twice while growing up. He would throw crayons at you and call you names on the playground. We were all made to believe that this was what it meant when someone liked you. We were young, impressionable girls. These girls grew into strong women, but what happens when your idea of a strong man was misinterpreted when you were so young?

It’s fine when you’re young, in fact, it could be considered fun. The cat and mouse game of check yes or no was great in elementary school, but when you’re told it’s okay to be treated like this and boys were told it’s okay to treat girls like this, how could that play out? Middle school is full of two-week crushes and sharing a night at the movies after your mom drops you off. In high school, the abuse becomes more apparent.

It starts with a small comment: “Are you really going to wear that shirt? Isn’t it kind of low-cut?” The initial instinct is to think of how sweet this comment is. You’ll find yourself thinking he cares about how you’re dressed. He must really care about what others think of you and wants you to look classy and put together. It’s just one comment.

Next thing you know, you agree to go to a bonfire with a group of friends. Your phone buzzes and it’s a text from your boyfriend saying he doesn’t like it when you hang out with boys when he isn’t there. Though it may seem weird, you play along with it. Afterall, your whole life you’ve been told that when they get upset it just shows that they care. There may even be a thought that maybe it is time to cut back your time with your friends. Your boyfriend seems to show he cares a lot about you. It’s just another comment.

You’re lying together on the couch while you’re hanging out and a guy from your class texts you for the notes from yesterday. He glances at your phone and gets so extremely mad. He calls you stupid and pathetic. You argue back with him and apologize that you didn’t know he was going to text you. As he punches the wall because he’s so angry, you apologize one last time. You begin to think it’s your fault and that you should have never offered your notes up. “I made him get like this.”

The abusive words and actions continue, putting doubt into your mind. This is not what love is. Your friends have told you for the past eight months that he isn’t supposed to treat you like this. Putting his hands on you is never okay, but you made it okay for a long time because you loved him. You tell him you’re done and that love is not supposed to keep you up every night crying. His broken record of excuses keep playing while you’re trying to get a word in, but you’re strong enough to walk away this time. No more excuses.

We’re taught from a young age that it’s okay to allow boys to say and do what they want because it’s supposed to be a way of showing affection. As we grow older it’s important to say no. You are strong enough to walk away from anything that does not feel right. If you need help or think that you are in an abusive relationship, do not feel like you cannot seek help. There are people out there to help you.