Teen Dating Violence
What Is Dating Violence?
Dating violence is the physical, emotional and/or verbal abuse of one partner by the other partner in a current or former dating relationship. Abusive behavior is any act carried out by one partner aimed at hurting or controlling the other. Dating violence happens in male/female relationships as well as in lesbian and gay relationships.
A violent relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you. Violence is about power and control. When someone uses abuse and violence against you, it is always part of a larger pattern to try and control you.
Even though most people think that violence in relationships happens only between married persons, the same kind of violence also happens between people who are dating regardless of their sexual orientation. Even if you are not being hurt physically, verbal and emotional abuse are just as painful and often lead to physical violence.
Types of Dating Violence
Emotional Abuse – harms the person’s self esteem or causes shame.
- repeated lies, broken promises, withholding affection
- jealousy so extreme that it keeps a partner away from friends or interests
- insults and put-downs
- threats against a person’s safety
- controlling a person’s every move, including how to dress, what to eat, where to go
Physical Abuse – causes physical pain or injury.
- punching, kicking, or slapping
- shaking, pushing or grabbing hard enough to cause discomfort
- attacking with a knife, gun or other weapon
- any physical act that is unwanted or hurtful – even tickling or hugging if it is unwanted
Sexual Abuse – is any kind of unwanted sexual advance or contact. It can include everything from unwelcome sexual comments to kissing to intercourse. Forced sexual intercourse between two people who know each other is called “date rape.”
Effects of Dating Violence
Dating violence can range from broken bones and bruised self-esteem to permanent injury and even death. Victims may also come to view abuse as a normal part of their relationships. Dating violence can prevent a young person from growing and learning from healthy relationships.
Some of the effects are:
- loss of appetite
- mistrust of self and others
Build Healthy Relationships
- communicate clearly
- avoid dangerous situations
- be in control
- be selective
- trust your instincts
In An Unhealthy Relationship?
If you’re involved in an unhealthy relationship
- believe in yourself
- get help
- get out
Dating someone is never worth being hurt or feeling afraid.
Breaking Up is Hard to Do
No matter what type of relationship you are in, breaking up can be a difficult task. We are often being tugged in different directions by our emotions. Here’s some of the reasons why its hard to break-up:
Love – Abusers are not always hurtful. Many abusers have a likable and loving side that makes their victims with only that the abuse would stop. Many victims think they can change the abuser’s behavior.
Fear – Many times a date/partner will threaten to hurt him or herself if the other decides to leave. Many times the abuser will threaten to hurt the victim if s/he decides to leave. Abusers often threaten that the violence will get worse if the partner decides to leave.
Doubt – It’s not always easy to admit that the relationship you are in is abusive. If your date is popular at school (athletics, academics, etc.) you may be concerned about losing social status with your peers.
Embarrassment – Teens who ask for help (especially from parents) may perceive themselves to be failures. Some teenagers believe that their parents will react violently if they are aware of the abuse.
Know a Victim of Dating Violence?
If you know a victim of dating violence:
- believe the person
- support the person
- suggest options
Need Someone to Talk to?
Women’s Coalition of St. Croix 773-9272
Crisis Help Line 1-800-233-4357
National Youth Crisis Line 1-800-448-4663
Child Help USA, National Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800 422-4453)
Covenant House 1-800-999-9999