Inspirational Sunday: Love is…NOT Abuse

by Migdalia Rivera


Do you recall the “Love Is. . .” cartoons by Kim Casali? They were a collection of cartoons expressing what “Love is…” As a young girl, I recall enjoying those cartoons and thinking that is how my mate would treat me. Yet reality is very different from cartoons for some tweens and teens. It is hurtful, abusive, and violent.

On December 3, 2009, Liz Claiborne held their annual event, “Time to Talk”*. The event aimed to bring teen relationship abuse to the forefront, with several domestic violence experts, as well as parents and teens who had experienced it firsthand.

While at the event, I was able to speak with several domestic violence experts, including Stephanie Nilva, the Executive Director of Day One.  She explained that one in three teens will experience relationship abuse in some shape or form. The numbers are even more saddening when you take into account the unreported abuse. For this reason, parents need to discuss this issue with their children while they are young. Instilling in their child what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior provides them with knowledge that can save them. Trust must also be established while they are young so that they will not be afraid to seek help. If, however, your children are already tweens and teens, Ms. Nilva stressed the importance of being very open, patient and non-judgemental when discussing relationship abuse. Doing so, will give them the opportunity to open up if they are already in such a relationship.

However, parents must do more than talk. They must listen. Bincy Jacob, of My Sisters’ Place, brought up this  important reminder when she stated, “Teens are already marginalized. They are silenced in so many ways.”   By gaining their voice, they can vocalize what is occuring and can than seek help.

Sadly, 17 year old Aneese Michelle Rivera did not find her voice in time. She was murdered by her boyfriend and two of his friends on October 3, 2008. Martiza Rivera, her Aunt and a New York State Action Leader for a  national coalition called MADE: Moms and Dads for Education to Stop Teen Dating Abuse, spoke to me about their ordeal.  As noted by Maritza, “friends and family all saw the warning signs but didn’t know where to go or what to do for help … I firmly believe that had there been any kind of education or awareness made regarding Teen Dating Violence and Abuse in the community, media and especially in the schools that Aneese and all the other victims who have fallen prey to their abusers, would still be with us today.”  Watch the video below. Hear the story in Maritza’s own words.



Learn the signs. Empower yourself. Discuss it with your children.  Join MADE: Moms and Dads for Education to Stop Teen Dating Abuse. Sign the pledge. Raise awareness in your community. End teen dating abuse. 


Click below to download FREE copies of the following books or pamphlets:



Important Statistics¹:

  • 62% of tweens (age 11-14) know friends who have been in a verbally abusive relationship
  • Only half of all tweens (age 11-14) know the warning signs of a bad/hurtful relationship
  • 1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend/peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by a partner
  • Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm when they tried to break-up
  • 13% of teenage girls who said they have been in a relationship report being physically hurt or hit 
  • 30% of murdered teens between the ages of 15-19 are killed by their husband or boyfriend
  • 24% of 14-17 year olds know at least 1 student who has been a dating violence victim
  •  81% of parents either believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it is an issue
  • Less than 25% of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents

    ¹Statistics obtained from Love is Not Abuse


    If you are a teen in an abusive relationship (ages 13-18), you can call The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NTDAH) at 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453 for the Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing. It is a 24-hour national web-based and telephone resource serving all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. You can also initiate a live chat by clicking HERE.


    *Disclosure: I received a $50 Juicy Couture gift card for participating in Liz Claiborne’s “Time To Talk” event.

    About the Author

    Migdalia Rivera, also known as Ms. Latina in social media, is a single Latina mother of a teen, tween and 2 Australian Shepherds. When not blogging, or chasing after her energetic bunch, she connects influential bloggers with brands and PR agencies via her blogger network, Stiletto Media.

    { 9 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Melinda December 20, 2009 at 4:15 pm

    being the mom of a teen daughter I’m so worried of the the traps she can fall into. We try to teach her to be loving and trusting but not to be so niave.
    Great post mama!

    2 Ms. Latina December 21, 2009 at 11:59 am

    @ Melinda: I def. understand since my boys are very trusting and naive also. It isn’t discussed as much but it does happen to boys as well, esp. verbal abuse. I try to reinforce good dating skillls with my sons by going on “dates” with them and showing them how to behave. I also downloaded “Tough Talk: What boys need to know about relationship abuse”.

    3 Ivette December 21, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Great job in bringing awareness to a topic that is Taboo!
    I am not a mother, but I am an aunt and my nieces and nephews are my pride and joy! I think that as adults we have to play an active role in their lives, loving them so much that they won’t have to look for love anywhere else, and especially not in the street!

    4 Isolated Existence December 22, 2009 at 5:20 am

    I am a mother of a teenage boy and my daughter who no longer is one but to me she still is. We have talked about this many times. She just started dating and even though she’s very outgoing when it comes to certain things she can be a bit naive also. She would be very upset if she knew I said that!

    Her friends come to her for advice a lot and she tells them without pelos en la lengua how it is. I hope by doing so she gets to help one or two of her friends from becoming victims of any type of abuse and that if she ever finds herself in a relationship like that she won’t think twice to come to me or someone else for help.

    Thanks for bringing awareness, like you said in your tittle Love is not abuse..

    5 Tamara B. December 22, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    I have four children and I have one teenage daughter that I worry so much about I we talk about everything.

    6 Elena December 24, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you for a gerat post and bringing my awareness to this all-over-the-world problem. My son is just 2 years old. He even dosn’t know what it means. As he grows up though, I’ll make sure he knows about it.

    7 Sabrina December 28, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for addressing this issue. My daughter is 19 and can I tell you how scared I am of her well being when it comes to dating…

    8 Ms. Latina December 28, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    @Sabrina: It is scary especially because we’ve seen how crazy some people can be. In the end, that will help us guide them so that they can avoid those mistakes. The books are also great resources. I really loved the one for boys.

    9 Sylvia April 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I have a lot of history about this.Thank you for your post. Soy artista e hice un cuadro contra el abuso de parejas. Di le no al abuso!
    next post contra el abuso de los ninos.
    Sylvia akamine

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