What is Teen Dating Violence?
Teen dating violence, or dating abuse, is a pattern of destructive behavior used to exert power or control over a dating partner. It may include physical violence, emotional or verbal abuse, sexual abuse (including being pressured or forced to have sex), or stalking. It often starts with teasing or name-calling, and can escalate over time to physical assault and rape.
Abusive relationships have ups and downs. Part of what makes dating violence so painful and hard to understand is that there is love mixed with the abuse. This can make it hard to realize that you really are being abused. If you think you are in an abusive relationship, see “What to Do if You Are Being Abused,” below. Tell someone. Seek help, because without help, dating violence will escalate.
In almost all abusive relationships, men abuse women. However, young women can be violent, and young men can also be victims. Gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans-gendered teens are also equally at risk.
- 1 in 3 teens will be the victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from the person they are dating
- 1 in 9 teen girls will be forced to have sex
- 1 in 10 teens will be physically assaulted by someone they are dating
- 1 in 5 young women will be a victim of sexual assault while they are in college
- Young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of dating violence
- Violent relationships in teenage years can have serious effects later. These relationships put victims at increased risk for substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, eating disorders, and further domestic violence.
- Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls 6 times more likely to become pregnant and 2 times as likely to get a sexually transmitted infection.
- 50 percent of young people who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide, compared to 12.5 percent of non-abused girls and 5.4 percent of non-abused boys.
Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship
- Checking your cell phone or email without permission
- Constantly putting you down
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Explosive temper
- Isolating you from family or friends
- Making false accusations
- Mood swings
- Physically hurting you in any way
- Telling you what to do
What to Do If You Are Being Abused
If you are being abused, remember: it’s not your fault. Tell somebody you trust. Here are some resources to help you end the cycle of abuse:
- It is important to have a safety plan. This website has a downloadable form to help you stay safe in a variety of situations: http://www.loveisrespect.org/get-help/safety-planning
- There are some downloadable smartphone apps that can help you stay safe or get help quickly. They can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/1is2many/apps-against-abuse
- If you are being abused, contact the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474. You can also text the helpline by sending the word “loveis” to 77054.
- You can also call our 24 hour hotline at 330.823.7223 for information, support, and tips on safety planning.
What Can You Do to Help?
If you think a friend is being abused:
- Trust your instincts. Your friend may not have bruises on her body, and she may not confide in you, but if you think something is wrong in her dating relationship, there probably is.
- Reach out to your friend. Be supportive. Don’t judge her.
- Help your friend understand that abuse is wrong and that she deserves a healthy relationship.
- Provide resources (see “Additional Resources,” below) so your friend can get help.
- Help your friend develop a safety plan (See “What to Do if You are Being Abused,” above).
- Don’t harass the abuser or post angry or drama-filled statements online. It will only make things worse for your friend.
If you’d like to help us fight to end teen domestic violence:
- Volunteer at a local domestic violence shelter or rape crisis center.
- Start an anti-violence project at your school or community center.
- Talk to your friends and family members about your commitment to ending dating violence and sexual assault.
- Be a role model for healthy relationships.
- Post your support for anti-violence work on social networking sites.