Teen Dating Violence

1.5 million teens experience dating abuse of some form each year. Only 33% ask for help.

Dating abuse is a pattern of physically, verbally, emotionally, and/or sexually abusive behavior used by one individual to maintain power and control over the other.

1.5 Million Teens

Healthy relationships are based on trust, respect, and support!

You have the right to:

  • Be respected by others.
  • Say no when you don’t want to do something.
  • Talk openly about your feelings.
  • Be heard.
  • Make you own decisions.
  • Have your own opinion.
  • A happy, healthy, and equal relationship.

You have the right to be in a happy, healthy relationship!

Emotional Abuse:
Blames you for their behavior. Makes everything your fault.
Violates Your Privacy:
Looks through your phone. Demands your online passwords.
Peer Pressure:
Tells you how to dress and act. Pressures you to use cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, or have sex when you aren't ready.
Harassment:
Constantly texts or calls to check up on you. Follows you or shows up uninvited. Spreads rumors about you.
Power & Control Wheel
Isolation:
Pressures you to give up extra-curricular activities to spend more time with them. Becomes jealous of your friends and family.
Intimidation:
Uses looks or action to scare you or make you afraid. Destroys your property. Yells or curses at you.
Threats:
Talks about violence or suicide if you end the relationship.
Humiliation:
Calls you names or puts you down in front of others. Shares personal information without your permission.

For Teens

No one deserves to be abused. Remember everyone is responsible for their own behavior. It’s not your fault and you can’t change the behavior of your dating partner. It is important to ask for help from a trusted adult and develop a plan to keep you safe.

If you suspect your friend might be in an abusive relationship you can help by:

  • Talking to them about it in private.
  • Listening without judgment.
  • Offering to go with them to tell a trusted adult such as a counselor, teacher, or parent.
  • Describing behaviors and actions that concern you.
  • Allowing your friend to make her or his own decisions and remaining supportive even if you disagree with their choices.
  • Offering support even if you feel that it isn’t helping.

It is important to remember to try not to have all the answers. Don’t pressure your friend into making any decisions. Never confront their dating partner about the situation.

For Parents

Some early warning signs your teen may be in an abusive relationship include:

  • Frequent apologies for their partner’s behavior, or casually speaking about their “hot temper” while laughing it off.
  • Spends less time with family and friends while time spent with their dating partner increases.
  • Changes in your teen’s personality such as exhibiting signs of depression, nervousness, becoming secretive or uncharacteristically emotional.
  • Shows a lack of interest in activities or hobbies they once loved.
  • A drop in grades or attendance in school.
  • Unexplained bruises or scratches; when asked about them they change the subject.
  • Change in appearance and the way they normally dress.
  • Displays timid behavior when their dating partner is near.

As a parent, there are things you can do to help your teen if you suspect they may be in an abusive relationship. It is important to listen to your teen without interruption or judgment towards their dating partner. Your teen may still have strong feelings for their dating partner despite the abuse. If it is too difficult for them to talk with you about their relationship, help them identify someone they may feel more comfortable with. If the abuse (verbal, emotional, physical) escalates, contact school officials or the police.

For more information about teen dating violence and how to help your teen, please call the Shelter for Help in Emergency’s Community Outreach Center at (434) 963-4676.