Teen Dating Violence


Teen Dating Violence

Dating Abuse (like domestic violence) is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner.teens

Abuse affects all types of relationships, not just long-term or committed relationships. However, often violence that happens between dating teens is viewed/addressed differently than abuse in a relationship between two cohabitating or intimately involved adults.

This does not mean teen dating violence is less dangerous or serious in nature; it recognizes that what teens experience as abuse may differ from what their older counter-parts experience. This is because of the emotional/physical maturity of teens, and the resources they have available to them. For example, teens may be less likely to experience financial abuse. The tactics a teen abuser uses may more heavily depend on technology.

Even if a relationship is casual or you’ve only “hooked up” once, you can still experience abuse. If something makes you uncomfortable, scared or threatened, you could be experiencing the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship.

Why Focus on Young People?

One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.

One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.

Approximately 70% of college students say they have been sexually coerced.

Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.

Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.

The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.

About 72% of eighth and ninth graders are “dating”

Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.

Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get a STI.

Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape, attempt suicide, compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.

Defining “Dating”

It’s important that both you and your partner agree on a definition for your relationship. Whether you call it “dating” or something else, both people should agree on the same ground rules. Keep these questions in mind:

  • Do you have romantic feelings for this person?
  • Are you and the person you’re interested in, both looking for a committed relationship?
  • Do you hang out or go on dates without a group of friends?
  • Is the status of your relationship something you’ve shared online, like on Facebook?
  • Do both people in the relationship agree that it’s exclusive?

There is no exact age when you can or cannot start dating. Many parents set an age according to their perspective, culture, views and beliefs. Teens may want to consider talking to their parents, family and friends to see what their thoughts are. If they find talking to their parents difficult, starting a dialogue amongst friends can be helpful. Overall what matters is that the parties personally feel ready and confident to make decisions about being in a relationship.

Warning Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

The Love is Respect website has many helpful tools to help teens evaluate their situation and determine if their relationship is healthy.

Because relationships exist on a spectrum (Click for Love is Respect’s relationship spectrum interactive tool), it can be hard to tell when a behavior crosses the line from healthy to unhealthy or even abusive. This interactive tool asks you to evaluate situations as healthy, unhealthy, or abusive, and then shares the response they have determined to be best with an explanation. Also, look for these warning signs of an unhealthy/potentially abusive:

  • 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
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling you what to do
  • Repeatedly pressuring you to engage in intimate activities/have sex

Another helpful tool is their interactive Teen Power and Control Wheel. Adapted from the original Power and Control Wheel, developed with adult relationships in mind (found on our Domestic Violence page), this wheel illustrates different tactics abusers use to exert power and control over their victims.

Teens are encouraged to explore the other “What is Abuse” sections of our site for info on specific types of abuse, such as stalking, sexual violence, technological abuse & social networking safety,  abuse in LGBTQ relationships, etc.

Adapted from Information Found on: www.loveisrespect.org