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Teens and Violence in Dating

What Every Teen Needs to Know about Healthy Relationships

In a good relationship, people can:

  • Express differences
  • Share ideas and feelings
  • Discuss their beliefs
  • Talk before touching
  • Feel comfortable
  • Be themselves


A Good Partner:

  • Encourages you to feel good about yourself
  • Helps you to see who you are and appreciates you for you
  • Encourages other friendships
  • Only touches you in a way you want and like
  • Encourages you to say how you feel and appreciates your thoughts


What is Teen Dating Violence?
Dating Violence is a pattern of abusive behavior that someone uses against a girlfriend or boyfriend. Abuse can cause injury or even death, but it doesn’t have to be physical. It can include verbal and emotional abuse - constant insults, isolation from friends and family, name calling, controlling what someone wears - and it can also include sexual abuse. It can happen to anyone - at any age. It isn’t an argument every once in a while, or a bad mood after a bad day (A Teen’s Handbook 2000).


What Is Not Ok? Warning Signs to Watch for:


Does your Boyfriend/Girlfriend:

  • Act jealous or possessive toward you?
  • Control what you do or who you hang out with?
  • Embarrass or insult you?
  • Neglect to respect your feelings and ideas?
  • Touch you in a way that hurts or frightens you?
  • Pressure and/or manipulate you into having sex?
  • Pressure you to use drugs or alcohol?
  • Grab, punch, hit or kick you?
  • Blame you for his/her problems?
  • Check up on where you’ve been?
  • Prevent you from practicing safe sex?
  • Scare you, or make you afraid of how he/she will react to things you do or say?
  • Hold all the power in your relationship?
  • Threaten you?


If you answered yes to any of these questions, your boyfriend or girlfriend might be abusing you. Please talk to a trusted adult, friend, counselor, teacher, parent, family member or advocate at WomenSafe.
You deserve a healthy relationship!
Remember: You have the right to feel safe at all times. No one deserves to be abused.


What to do if you are being abused


TALK ABOUT IT:
Seek out the support you need; often people are isolated by an abusive partner. Get support from someone you trust such as a parent, friend, teacher, school counselor, family member, or advocate at WomenSafe. You can call the WomenSafe 24-hour hotline anonymously without giving your name, age or where you live.
THINK ABOUT SAFETY:
Trust your feelings, if you are worried about safety, there’s a reason for it. If you are in immediate danger - call the police. Talk to a trusted adult. Breaking up can be a dangerous time. Make sure you have a safety plan before taking action.
PUT YOURSELF FIRST:
Your partner might need help, but it is important that you get support for yourself.
REMEMBER…YOU ARE NOT ALONE:
You are not to blame, and you do not deserve to be abused. There is help! Call the 24-hour confidential hotline at WomenSafe at 388-4205 or 800-388-4205 for more information.


1 in 5 female high school students reported being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. This includes being shoved, slapped, hit or forced into any sexual activity. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001)


How to Help a Friend Who Has Been Abused:

  • Tell them that the abuse is not their fault.
  • Tell them that they don't deserve to be abused.
  • Believe them and let them know that you do.
  • Be supportive, but don't tell them what to do. Whatever they decide, it is their decision.
  • Don't blame them for the abuse or their decisions. It is difficult and sometimes dangerous to leave a relationship and they may not be ready yet.
  • Offer to go with them to talk to someone: a teacher, counselor or advocate.
  • Continue to be there for them even if they do not leave the relationship. Let them know that they can always come to you.
  • Don't spread gossip. It could be dangerous for them.
  • Help them to make a safety plan, or find someone who can.
  • Give them good information about abuse. There are resources available to help them and you.
  • Call WomenSafe at 388-4205 or 800-388-4205 for more information.


In one study, 25% of high school girls told no one about the abuse, 26% told their parents, and 66% reported the abuse to their friends. (
In Love and Danger: A Teen’s Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships by Barrie Levy, MSW (1993) Seal Press.)

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