Today’s post is a feature from MTV ACT, MTV’s blog that encourages activism and social responsibility.
We’re used to “16 and Pregnant” being dramatic–what with the 16-year-olds having babies and all. But tonight’s episode took drama to a whole new level when Josh, a new father of twin boys, kicked his babies’ mother, Jennifer, out of his car and drove off with the kids.
Watching the incident unfold was downright scary. After putting his hand in Jennifer’s face and calling her a “stupid ass bitch,” Josh forces her out of the car. When Jennifer attempts to remove the twins from the backseat, he picks her up to prevent her from doing so, an even more violent act given her recent C-section.
Jennifer ends up calling the police, which was the right thing to do. Although Josh returned a few minutes after driving off, the incident and interaction between the couple throughout the episode raised serious dating and domestic violence concerns:
Issues of control
Josh gave Jennifer an ultimatum: It’s either him or her family. This is, of course, an impossible choice for anyone–let alone a teenager–to have to make, and was an early sign in the episode of Josh’s control issues. Josh would later talk over Jennifer and demand that she “hang up the phone” on multiple occasions when she was on the phone with her mom. If Jennifer wasn’t responding to his needs on his terms, he wasn’t having it. Even the act of speeding up the car while they were arguing and ultimately putting her out on the street was Josh’s way of exerting control over the situation.
Issues of respect
From claiming that her parents “wipe [her] own ass for [her]” to calling her and her mother “bitch,” Josh repeatedly insulted Jennifer with hurtful language and obscenities. Josh even seems to lack respect for Jennifer’s space–repeatedly texting and calling her after the car altercation.
We took the Love Is Respect “Is This Abuse?” quiz to see where Josh’s behavior fell and, not surprisingly, there were clear red flags. The put-downs, threats, controlling behavior and physical assaults are all signs of an abusive relationship. When you consider the well-being of the couple’s children, the situation becomes even more grave.
If you are in an abusive relationship or suspect that someone you know is at risk, contact the National Dating Abuse Helpline for resources and support on how to break the cycle. Remember, no matter what the circumstances, no matter what the backstory, nothing excuses abuse, nothing makes it right and there is a way out.