Most parents know that TikTok is the newest, hottest trend in content creation apps that kids are obsessed with. You've no doubt seen your child watch endless TikToks of dance battles, lip-syncing and comedy skits but there's a new trend emerging that is raising awareness about the dangers of emotional abuse in teen dating.
The trend began when a young woman named Isabella posted a TikTok of her doing an interpretive dance to a tearful voicemail from her former boyfriend apologizing for his behavior after she discovered that he had cheated on her. Isabella explained to Rolling Stone that she had dated her now ex-boyfriend for about six months, and described the relationship as toxic. “He tended to get angry and lash out sometimes at people. It wasn’t super often, but after a while, he started to act that way towards me,” she says. “If I were to not answer him for a long time or was doing something else he’d get irritated.”
tiktok girls inspire me— freia lobo (@freialobo) October 17, 2019
caption: Day 1 of dancing to voicemails from my cheating ex boyfriend 🥰 pic.twitter.com/SK22Er6Cyn
She explained that when she recently came across the voice mail message, she was happy to discover that she no longer felt the same as she did when the couple originally broke up. “It had really bothered me [to hear the message] at the time, but at this point, it was just funny.”
After seeing Isabella's post, another young woman named Tenley decided to create her own dance set to a conversation she had recorded between herself and ex-boyfriend. The audio clip featured her ex-boyfriend berating her because she wore leggings to school. “It was really hard listening to it the first few times, even now,” she told Rolling Stone. She explained that like Isabella, time had allowed her to have a different perspective on the abuse. “I was able to laugh at myself and at him.”
A pastor’s son (she got a restraining order): https://t.co/lNJZXZi92U— k austin collins (@melvillmatic) October 18, 2019
Both Tenley and Isabella told the magazine that since they posted their videos they've received countless comments from other young girls who are also in abusive relationships and have seen the videos emerge as a trend. Tenley said she has been struck by the response, adding that she's planning on doing other videos to highlight some 'red flags' young women can look for in their relationships. “So many girls DM me saying ‘I’ve been through the same thing’ and some are saying, ‘I’m literally dating someone like this now and this showed me I needed to get out,'” she said.
Parenting expert Dr. Deborah Gilboa told TODAY Parents that it's important that young women share their stories of abuse. “Abuse doesn’t only happen to children who had no good role model of love,” she said. “One-third of teens will experience abuse of some kind.” She stated that when people share their own stories, it helps them understand that abuse is never their fault. “It validates what they are experiencing. They see, ‘Hey this is not OK,’” she explained. “When they open themselves up looking for validation, peer support occurs, and it’s good for them.”
She also said that by sharing the messages others can understand what abusive language is. “When they say, ‘If you love me you won’t do this’ or ‘Don't do that,’ actually what they are doing is taking control in a way that is not love,” she explained. “It can be difficult for anyone, especially young people, to differentiate love from control.” Gilboa praises the videos stating, "It is really valuable for young people to see their peers saying love doesn’t mean ownership.”
Tenley couldn't agree more, telling Rolling Stone, "I think it’s good for girls in those types of relationships to see…that this shit sucks and you don’t have to be a part of it, and you’ll feel so much better once you’re out.”