What is Teen Dating Violence?
Teen Dating Violence is controlling, abusive and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. It can happen in straight or gay relationships. It can include verbal emotional, physical, sexual abuse or a combination.
Pattern of Behavior
Teen Dating violence usually involves a series of abusive behaviors over a course of time, whether it is verbal, emotional, physical, sexual abuse or a combination. Every relationship is different, what is common to most abusive relationships is the violence escalates over time and becomes more dangerous for the young victim.
Who Experiences Dating Violence?
Anyone. Dating violence, abuse or unhealthy behaviors can take place in any type of relationship, whether it be casual, monogamous or not, short-term or long-term. Dating violence does not discriminate; it does not know gender, sexual identity, economic status, ethnicity or religious preference.
Teen Dating Violence Statistics
- One in three girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
- One in ten High School students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Violent behavior often begins between 6th and 12th grade. 72% of 13 and 14-year olds are "dating".
- Only about 33% of the teens who were involved in an abusive relationship confided in someone about the violence.
- Teens who have been abused hesitate to seek help because they do not want to expose themselves or are unaware of the laws surrounding domestic violence.
- Nearly 1.5 million High School students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner every year.
- Teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide and violent behavior.
Characteristics of Teen Dating Violence
- Physical Abuse: Any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon.
- Verbal or Emotional Abuse: Non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking.
- Sexual Abuse: Any action that impacts a person's ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion or restricting access to birth control.
- Digital Abuse: Use of technologies and/or Social Media networking to intimidate, harass or threaten a current or ex-dating partner. This could include demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyber bullying, sexting and excessive or threatening texts or stalking on Facebook or other Social Media.
Warning Signs of Abuse
- Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Constant belittling or put-downs
- Explosive temper
- Isolation from family and friends
- Making false accusations
- Erratic mood swings
- Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
- Telling someone what to do
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
What to do if you know someone in an abusive relationship
- Abuse is never the victim's fault. It is important to remember that nothing a victim does invites or excuses abuse.
- Never tell someone to "just leave" the relationship. There are many reasons why teens and 20 year olds stay in unhealthy relationships. Breaking up can be the most violent time in an abusive relationship and the victim could also lack resources or might feel ashamed.
- Take relationships among youth seriously. By assuming teen relationships is just "young love", adults overlooking the seriousness of dating violence. Abuse among youth can be just as destructive as among adults, if not more so. Dating abuse can lead to unwanted pregnancy, eating disorders and even suicide.
- Do not advise teens to fight back. When a victim violently lashes out against his or her abuser, the violence often escalates. The abuser may even take that moment to "prove" the violence is mutual and, sometimes, press charges. It is much more effective to seek legal help or make a safety plan.
- There's never a point where you should "cut off" a friend who is being abused. Part of an abuser's tactics is to isolate his or her victim. Without a supportive community, a victim finds it harder to leave the unhealthy relationship, listen and support the victim.
- Tell someone. It may save their life or keep the abuse from escalating.