teen dating violence

Dating violence or abuse can occur in intimate relationships between people from ages pre-teen through adulthood. However, studies have shown that teenagers ages 13-18 are a high risk because they are beginning to explore dating and intimacy. Additionally, this age group is at risk because statistics have shown that they are the least likely group to disclose warning signs or abuse to a friend, family member or trusted adult and especially to report dating violence to the police. Dating violence crosses all racial, economic and social lines. Most victims are young women, who are also at greater risk for serious injury.

what is teen dating violence?

A basic definition of Teen Dating Violence is “A pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, committed by a teenager against a current or former dating partner.” Abuse may include insults, coercion, sexual harassment, threats and/or acts of physical or sexual abuse.  Teen dating violence also includes dating between same sex couples.  Statistics show that one in three teenagers have experienced violence in a dating relationship.

Teen dating violence is often hidden and difficult to detect because teenagers typically are inexperienced with dating relationships, want independence from their parents and have “romantic” views of love. Teen dating violence is almost always influenced by how teenagers look at themselves and others.
Young men may believe:

  • They have the right to “control” their female partners in any way necessary;
  • “Masculinity” is physical aggressiveness;
  • They “possess” their partner;
  • They should demand intimacy;
  • They may lose respect if they are attentive and supportive toward their girlfriends.

Young women may believe:

  • They are responsible for solving problems in their relationships;
  • Their boyfriend’s jealousy, possessiveness and even physical abuse, is “romantic,”  and a sign of love;
  • Abuse is “normal” because their friends are also being abused;
  • There is no one to ask for help.

warning signs of teen dating violence:

If you think you may be involved in a violent relationship, some of the early warning signs your partner may show are:

  • Extreme jealousy;
  • Controlling behavior;
  • Pressure to quickly become involved;
  • Extreme mood swings;
  • Alcohol and drug use;
  • Explosive anger;
  • Isolating you from friends and family;
  • The use of force during an argument;
  • A tendency to blame others for their problems or feelings;
  • Verbal abuse;
  • A history of abusing former partners;
  • Threats of violence;
  • Cruelty to animals or children.

if you think that your teenager may be involved in a violent relationship, some of the common clues may be:

  • Physical signs of injury;
  • Truancy, and/or dropping out of school;
  • Failing grades;
  • Unexplained changes in mood or personality;
  • Use of drugs/alcohol where there was no prior use;
  • Emotional outbursts;
  • Indecision;
  • Pregnancy;
  • Isolation from friends and family

tips for preventing teen dating violence:

Teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated respect.

Teens are encouraged to think ahead about ways to be safe if they are in a dangerous or potentially dangerous relationship. Here are some things to consider for creating a safety plan:

  • Consider double-dating the first few times you go out with a new person.
  • Before leaving on a date, know the exact plans for the evening and make sure a parent or friend knows these plans and what time to expect you home. Let your date know that you are expected to call or tell that person when you get in.
  • Be aware that alcohol and drugs affect your ability to think clearly and react quickly.
  • If you leave a party with someone you do not know well, make sure you tell another person who you are leaving with.  Ask a friend to call and make sure you arrived home safely.
  • Assert yourself when necessary. Be firm and straightforward in your relationships.
  • Trust your instincts. If a situation makes you uncomfortable, try to be calm and think of a way to remove yourself from the situation.
  • Always be sure your cell phone is charged or that you have spare change or a calling card available. Keeps numbers of trusted friends , family or an advocate such as Wild Iris handy in case you need to call for help.
  • If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.