Teen Dating Violence
WHAT IS TEEN DATING VIOLENCE?
Teen dating violence is a pattern of behavior and tactics in which one person uses threats or acts of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse to control, intimidate, and/or scare his or her partner. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between current or former dating partners. It also includes stalking.
Here are some warning signs that you can look for when trying to determine whether you are experiencing teen dating violence:
- 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
- Telling someone what to do
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
Teens may find themselves in dating violence situations because they are desensitized to violence: From witnessing domestic abuse in their personal lives, a lack of personal mentorship and positive role models, the influence of peers, and/or the normalization of violence in pop culture/media at large. Because of this, they may see little wrong with the violence that they are experiencing.
For more information about what teen dating violence may look like, look at the Teen Dating Violence Power and Control Wheel below.
PREVALENCE OF TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Teen dating violence is a growing problem across the globe. It can happen in any high school and within any social clique. Some report staying too long in an abusive relationship because of fear, with many staying as long as six months or more before seeking help. In a 2014 survey, Love is Respect and Mary Kay found that 57 percent of the teens and young adults surveyed have been concerned about their relationship for more than six months: 73 percent reported having experienced emotional abuse, 29 percent reported physical abuse, 22 percent reported sexual abuse and 19 percent reported digital abuse. Most alarmingly, 40 percent hadn’t talked to anyone about abusive behavior in their relationship.
Here are some more facts about the prevalence of teen dating violence:
- Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, almost triple the national average.
- Violent behavior often begins to develop in girls and boys between the ages of 12 and 18.
- 1 in 5 high school girls is physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
- 1 in 3 teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships.
- Only 33% of teens who have been in or known about an abusive dating relationship report having told anyone about it.
- Teen girls face relationship violence 3 times more than adult women.
- 25% of victims say they have been isolated from family and friends.
- More than half of victims say they have compromised their own beliefs to please a partner.
- Many teens think this is normal.
- Teens report dating abuse via cell phones is a serious problem.
- 1 in 3 teens say they are text messaged 10, 20, or 30 times an hour by a partner keeping tabs on them.
- 82% of parents whose teens were emailed or text messaged 30 times an hour were not aware of this.
- The majority of parents of teen victims are unaware of the abuse.
DO YOU THINK YOU MAY BE THE VICTIM OF TEEN DATING VIOLENCE?
Relationships are difficult, especially your first ones, and sometimes it is hard to recognize the boundaries between healthy and abusive interactions. But as a victim, it is not your fault—it is NEVER your fault. The first step toward changing things is to recognize that the situation is abusive. Love is not obsession and expression of love does not justify fear or control.
DO YOU THINK YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER IS IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP?
Even attentive parents can miss the signs of dating violence, and victims are often reluctant to divulge the details of their intimate relationships with their families. Parents can address the problem head on by talking to their children about dating violence before it happens and getting involved with school and community efforts to reduce the incidence of abusive intimate relationships among teens. Find more resources here.
AS A TEACHER AND EDUCATOR, DO YOU THINK ONE OF YOUR STUDENTS IS IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP?
It is imperative, given the deep and far-reaching consequences of dating violence, that educators recognize the signs of this form of abuse among their students and be prepared with resources for victims and their friends and families. Find more resources here.
HOW CAN YOU HELP A FRIEND IN NEED?
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who you think needs help. Tell them you’re concerned for their safety and want to help.
- Be supportive and listen patiently. Acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of their decisions.
- Help your friend recognize that the abuse is not “normal” and is NOT their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.
- Focus on your friend or family member, not the abusive partner. Even if your loved one stays with their partner, it’s important they still feel comfortable talking to you about it.
- Connect your friend to resources in their community that can give them information and guidance.
- Help them develop a safety plan.
- If they break up with the abusive partner, continue to be supportive after the relationship is over.
- Don’t contact the abuser or publicly post negative things about them online. It’ll only worsen the situation for your friend.
- Even when you feel like there’s nothing you can do, don’t forget that by being supportive and caring, you’re already doing a lot.