But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships


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 ...

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But I Love Him

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

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Our Review
Seventeen, in Love, and in Danger

As a leading authority on abusive teen-dating relationships, psychotherapist Jill Murray's appearances on TV and radio talk shows, including Oprah, have prompted thousands of calls, letters, and emails. Now Murray has put her vast knowledge and experience into a book aimed at tackling this alarming problem. But I Love Him is an apt title as it represents the sort of excuse used by so many young women in abusive relationships -- women who are caught up in the throes of denial and who define love as a type of behavior. This is a must-read for any parent, as Murray emphasizes prevention as strongly as she does correction.

The statistics are shocking. More than a third of high school and college students surveyed say they have experienced violence in a dating relationship. About half of all dating women have suffered physical, emotional, verbal, and/or sexual abuse from their partners. One quarter of female homicide victims are between the ages of 15 and 24, and a third of all women murdered in the U.S. die at the hands of their boyfriend or husband. Clearly, relationship violence against women is a serious problem. And for many, it begins during the teen years, when emotions and hormones are both running high and dating habits are developed.

Murray attacks the problem using a three-pronged approach. The first is learning to identify the types of behaviors and situations that are a precursor to an abusive relationship, including how a boyfriend behaves, the type of home environment he comes from, and how a daughter caught in an abusive relationship might behave. The second step involves taking a hard and objective look at one's own family environment, identifying problematic behaviors and negative influences and making whatever changes are needed to promote trust, open communication, and harmony. The third step is learning what parents can and can't do, legally and otherwise, to rescue their daughters from abusive relationships.

Murray's coverage of the issue is extensive and dynamic. She addresses everything from minor verbal abuse to physical battery, from the type of behaviors that can help parents spot a potential abuser to the medical, legal, and psychological interventions available if such a relationship already exists. But I Love Him not only helps parents understand what motivates these young men and women. In the long run, it could save their lives.

--Beth Amos

San Jose Mercury News
The testimonials [and] Murray's psychoanalysis help the reader understand the eerie undertones in abusive relationships; [the book] speaks to the heart of parents.
Los Angeles Times
Even parents whose daughters have not experienced abuse would benefit from this book. Murray describes how parents can talk to their daughters not just about sex, but also about dating and the elements of a healthy relationship.
Times Picayune
Murray details the warning signs [of abusive relationships] so that parents can prevent their teen-age daughters from entering this dangerous cycle.
Times Picayune
Murray details the warning signs [of abusive relationships] so that parents can prevent their teen-age daughters from entering this dangerous cycle.
Sandy Condello
But I Love Him is one of the best written, easiest to read books on teen relationships I have ever read. Dr. Jill Murray has blended her personal experiences with her professional training, providing a primer for teens and parents. A must read!
Marian Betancourt
If all parents of daughters—as well as sons—read this book, we could prevent a great deal of violence against women in this country.
Murray, a psychotherapist with experience treating battered women, appeared on Oprah and was inundated with calls from concerned parents. This book, specifically for parents, focuses on the causes of abusive teen dating relationships and ways to get a daughter out of an abusive relationship. The chapters cover dating abuse, levels of abuse (verbal/emotional, sexual, and physical), and warning signs. Also discussed are spotting potential abuse, reasons why girls choose abusive relationships, types of love, roles of alcohol and drugs, prevention, and family dynamics. Murray explains how to talk to your daughter, discusses parental expectations, and offers medical, legal, and psychological interventions. The resources section includes annotated lists of books for adults and teens, Internet resources, and telephone numbers and hotlines of helpful organizations. Resources are provided by category: dating and domestic violence, emotional well-being, legal services, missing children and runaways, self-esteem, sex and family planning, sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, and substance abuse. Murray writes in a readable, conversational style with case examples and quotes from teenage girls. Her approach is realistic and straightforward. She encourages parents to realize that their daughters are not victims but choose to participate in destructive relationships. The necessity for intervention is emphasized. Useful details about types and consequences of medical, legal, and psychological intervention are included. The book has much valuable information, but its focus will limit the usefulness of the book to public libraries, to school libraries with a professional section accessibleto parents, or to counselors who might recommend the book to parents. 2000, Regan Books/HarperCollins, 193p, Index. Ages adult. Reviewer: Sherry York VOYA, February 2001 (Vol. 23, No.6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060957292
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 362,064
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Jill Murray is a psychotherapist with a private practice in Laguna Niguel, California. She speaks to thousands of students and parents in high schools around the country each year on the topic of abusive teen relationships, a focus she developed while serving as lead therapist at a domestic violence shelter for women and children. Her appearances on Oprah, Leeza, and radio call-in shows have generated overwhelming response from concerned parents nationwide. She lives in Laguna Niguel.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

What Is Teen Dating Abuse?

Abusive dating relationships and dating violence have increased at alarming rates in the last five years. It is estimated that one in three girls will have an abusive dating experience by the time she graduates from high school. In my professional experience--counseling girls and their parents in this situation--this is a gross underestimation. By this conservative figure, more than eight million girls per year in the United States alone will suffer at the hands of a violent boyfriend before their eighteenth birthdays. Teen abuse is epidemic. In America today, every nine seconds a teenage girl is battered by someone with whom she is in a relationship. What is most alarming is that the signs of potential abuse are also behaviors that young women find most flattering.

I'm sure you never thought you'd be reading a book about teen dating violence. I'm also sure you never imagined that your daughter would be involved in an abusive relationship. Oh, you may have worried about other potential problems: pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and drunk driving. But it probably never entered your consciousness that your own daughter could be involved with a boy who is verbally, emotionally, sexually, or physically abusive. Give yourself a break. No parent wants to think of emotional or physical harm coming to her own child.

The University of Michigan Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center in Ann Arbor defines dating violence as "the intentional use of abusive tactics and physical force in order to obtain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner." There are three key words inthis definition. Intentional is important to understand because it is clear that your daughter's boyfriend is cruel to her on purpose. As we will discuss further in chapter 6, violence of any sort is a learned behavior and completely voluntary. No one forces a teenage abuser to behave as he does, and it is totally within his power to stop. Power and control are also crucial words. Like adult batterers, the teen abuser uses tactics of control and coercion to keep his "victim" tied to him.

Before we go any further, I would like you to consider a few questions regarding your daughter's relationship with her boyfriend. If you recognize some of these warning signs in your daughter's relationship and feel that she may be in serious danger, please call your local police or sheriff's department or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE.

  • Before my daughter met her boyfriend, she had more friends than she does now.
  • Her grades have declined in the past weeks or months.
  • Before she started dating him, she was more outgoing and involved with her family, school activities, and/or place of worship.
  • She frequently cries or is very sad.
  • If he pages her, she must call him back immediately.
  • He told her that he loved her early in their relationship.
  • He is jealous if she looks at or speaks casually with another boy.
  • He accuses her of behavior she doesn't actually engage in.
  • He is aggressive in other areas of his life: he puts his fist through walls or closets, bangs his fist to make a point, or throws things when angry.
  • He frequently roughhouses or play-wrestles with her.
  • She makes excuses for his poor behavior or says it's her fault.
  • They talk on the phone several times a day or for long periods.
  • He has a "tragic" home life: he is or was physically abused or verbally demeaned, and/or one or both parents are alcoholics or use drugs.
  • He drinks or uses drugs.
  • He frequently gives her "advice" about her choice of friends, hairstyle, clothes, or makeup.
  • He calls her demeaning names, then laughs and tells her he was only kidding or that she's too sensitive.
  • She has become secretive since she started dating him. She is miserable whenever she is apart from him.
  • She has recently become very critical of her appearance, talents, or abilities.
  • She frequently has to explain herself to her boyfriend or often says she's sorry.
  • She has bruises she cannot explain or appears nervous about explaining to me.

In the next three chapters we'll discuss each level of violence in detail so that you will clearly understand the problem your daughter is facing and the ways in which you can help her now. First, however, consider these statistics on teen dating violence:

  • Thirty-six percent of female high school and college students surveyed--more than one in three--said that they had experienced some violence in a dating relationship.
  • As many as 50 percent of dating women suffer physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from their dating partners.
  • The majority of violence (as much as 86 percent) occurs during the "steady"/serious phase of a relationship.
  • Twenty-five percent of female homicide victims are between fifteen and twenty-four years old.
  • One in three women who are killed in the United States are murdered by their boyfriend or husband.
  • Results of recent interviews with approximately fourteen hundred students in rural North Dakota indicate that students from abusive households were twenty-five times more prone to dating violence than those from homes without abuse.
  • Ninety percent of men in prison come from abusive homes.

These are horrifying facts. The bad news is that unless your daughter wants to get out of her relationship, there is little you can do to convince her that's what's best for her. The good news is that throughout this book we will examine the history of her problem--that is, what led her to an abusive relationship--and the ways in which you can go about extricating your daughter from this nightmare.

But I Love Him. Copyright © by Jill Murray. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Introduction: Our Daughters Are in Danger 1
1. What Is Teen Dating Abuse? 7
2. Verbal and Emotional Abuse: The First Level of Violence 22
3. Sexual Abuse: The Second Level of Violence 40
4. Physical Abuse: The Third Level of Violence 50
5. Warning Signs: Recognizing Abusive Teenage Relationships 58
6. What's He Thinking? How to Spot a Potential Abuser 68
7. Why Girls Choose Abusive Relationships 77
8. Infatuation, Addictive Love, and Mature Love 85
9. The Role of Alcohol and Drugs 102
10. How to Prevent Abuse in the First Place: Family Dynamics 115
11. Girls Who Abuse Boys 131
12. Why Teens Don't Tell: How to Talk to Your Daughter About Abuse 138
13. Medical, Legal, and Psychological Interventions: Confronting Abuse 148
14. Who Will Our Daughters Become? What We Want for Girls in an Ideal World 164
Resources 179
Index 185
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2010

    Quality Book to Show What to Look Out For.

    First for anyone who actually knows me: No, I did not read this book because I'm worried about my teenage daughter's boyfriend. I read this book because I've got four *other* daughters who have yet to start dating, and I felt I should prepare myself. If the author's statistics are correct and 1 out of 3 teenage girls suffers dating violence, the chance that something happens to one of my other girls is sadly quite high, and I ought to do what I can to stop it before it starts.

    So this book. Maybe I'm a sucker for psych books, but I really liked what this one had to say. It's audience is the parents of a teenage girl who's already *in* a bad relationship, and discusses ways to talk with her and approach the situation with an objective eye, rather than buried in emotionally-charged accusations and counter-accusations which are far more common.

    From my perspective, it helps to identify the areas of discussion we need to have with the girls before serious dating starts, and gives me an angle of approach if that stuff goes badly.

    The book was published in 2000, and thus written earlier... There's lots of talk about teens paging each other, rather than using cell phones as they do today (2009). So there's a bit of in-your-head translation that goes on there. (I'd actually love to see what the author thinks about the never-ending texting that goes on today.)

    There's an extensive set of Resources at the end of the book; I worry that some of the organizations the author presents are no longer around, though a good Internet search should provide a new list, so perhaps that's not such a big deal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2004

    Look Here and Read

    I can relate to this book. My mom have this problem at home with her fiance. He dont hit her but he control her every move. if she leave's she has to call and tell him her destation. I just dont like how males think they can control people. Thats how i can relate to this book!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2003


    I ordered Jill's Book, 'but I Love Him', for a friends daughter who is at this time going through an abusive marriage with two children. She refuses to face the fact of what is going on. She is bound and detemined that she is not going to live the life she watched her mom, and her friend live. after being in such a relationship my self i thought i might klnow how to help and what to say, but i don't. We all denigh what is going on in our private lives and don't want people to know. So hopefully she will find this as a gift and read it. My prays are with all that have to live this life of abuse, i thank GOD i am still breathing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2000

    For adolescent girls -- and those of us who love them

    Somewhere along the line, the unacceptable became de rigueur. In a reality that¿s far different from the innocent, endearing pictures we may have about adolescent love, an alarming number of teen girls paint pictures of ¿love¿ that include jealousy, verbal abuse, and forceful ¿ even violent ¿ physical encounters. Yet, when they¿re asked to confront the uncomfortable, unacceptable nature of their relationships, these girls wail in protest, ¿But I love him!¿ 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, practitioners who work with adolescent girls and their romantic partners.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2011

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    Posted September 11, 2011

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