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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

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.
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.
Your partner might need help, but it is important that you get support for yourself.
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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