Teen Dating Violence

According to recent statistics, one in four teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship. Dating violence can take many forms:

  • psychological and emotional abuse
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse

Dating violence can occur between two people who are currently in a casual dating relationship or in a long-term serious relationship or who were formerly involved in a dating relationship. In dating violence, one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other partner through abuse. Dating violence is not about getting angry or having a disagreement. In an abusive relationship one partner is afraid of or intimidated by the other. Dating violence crosses all socio-economic, ethnic, cultural, and religious lines. Dating violence occurs in heterosexual and gay and lesbian relationships.

Relationship violence can occur at school — in the hall, in the classroom, in the parking lot, on the bus or in a car, at after-school activities, at a student’s workplace, at a school dance, or at a student’s home. In teenage dating relationships, the abuse is often public with peers witnessing the abuse; however, the abuse can also occur in private.

Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship
If you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then your partner is being abusive:

  1. Are you afraid of your partner or afraid to break up?
  2. Does your partner call you names, make you feel stupid, or tell you you can’t do anything right?
  3. Is your partner extremely jealous?
  4. Does your partner tell you where to go and who you can and cannot talk to?
  5. Does your partner tell you that no one else will ever go out with you?
  6. Do you feel cut off from family and friends?
  7. Do you feel threatened if you say no to touching or sex?
  8. Have you ever been blamed for having been abused?
  9. Has your partner, grabbed, hit, punched, held you down or kicked you?
  10. Is your partner really nice sometimes and really mean at other times (almost like he has two different personalities)?
  11. Does your partner make frequent promises to change or say he will never hurt you again?

Remember that you have the right to a healthy relationship. You do not deserve to be abused. You have done nothing wrong, and the abuse is not your fault. The longer you stay in an abusive relationship, the more intense the violence will become. It will not get better over time. Learn about the Cycles of Abuse.

Common Signs That Indicate That A Teenager May Be Experiencing Dating Violence:

  • Shows dramatic changes in body size, clothing, grades and outlook on life, mood and personality
  • Shows physical signs of injury
  • Is truant or drops out of school
  • Becomes more and more isolated from family and friends
  • Gives up favorite activities
  • Minimizes their partner’s behavior and makes excuses for them

What To Do If You Want To Leave

Talk to your parents, another family member, a friend, your physician, a counselor, a clergy person, or someone else you trust. If you remain isolated from family and friends, your abuser has more opportunity to control you.

Get help from professionals. Many domestic violence programs offer services for teens.

Educate yourself.

Keep a log of the abuse. You may need it as evidence if you have to take legal action.

Do not meet the abuser alone. Do not let the abuser in your home or car when you are alone. Avoid being alone at school, your job, or on the way to and from places.

Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to be back. Check in frequently.

Develop a safety plan and rehearse what you will do if the abuser becomes abusive.

Choose to not have sex or choose safe sex.

Give yourself some space. Take a break from dating.

What Makes A Healthy Relationship?
In a healthy relationship…

  • I can express my feelings without being judged.
  • I can talk about anything without fear of being hurt or put down.
  • I can negotiate and compromise.
  • I can choose to have safe sex without being accused of cheating or not trusting
  • I can choose and keep my friends
  • I have the right to be treated with respect and to be treated as an equal.
  • I have a right to my own body, thoughts, opinions, and property.
  • I feel supported in my personal goals and activities.
  • I am shown affection in non-threatening and non-abusive ways.
  • I can leave the relationship without fear.

How To Be A Friend To A Victim of Relationship Violence

Don’t ignore signs of abuse. Talk to your friend.

Express your concerns. Tell your friend you are worried.

Support, don’t judge.

Point out your friend’s strengths. Many people in abusive relationships are no longer capable of seeing their own abilities or gifts.

Encourage your friend to confide in a trusted adult. Offer to go with your friend for professional help.

Never put yourself in a dangerous situation with the victim’s partner. Don’t try to mediate or otherwise get involved directly.

Call 911 if you witness an assault. Tell a trusted adult if you suspect abuse, but don’t witness it.

Teen Dating Violence Resources


In Love and In Danger: A Teen’s Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships” by Barrie Levy (Seal Press, 1993)

Dating Violence: Young Women In Danger” edited by Barrie Levy (Seal Press, 1991)

But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive, Dating Relationships” by Dr. Jill Murray (Regan Books, 2000)

Love Isn’t Supposed to Hurt” by Joan Rubin-Deutsch, Network for Women’s Lives (978) 287-4089 (Pamphlet)

Teen Dating Violence Services

REACH Hotline (800) 899-4000 (Office (781) 891-0724)
Kol Isha Teen Safe Program (781) 647-5327 and ask for Kol Isha
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (866) 331-9474 (866)331-8453 (TTY) www.loveisrespect.org

Teen Dating Violence Prevention Programs

Deana’s Fund (781) 438-5604

Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center (978) 465-0999 X19

Mentors In Violence Prevention (617) 373-4025 - The Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Program is a gender violence prevention and education program based at Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society. The multi-racial, mixed gender MVP team is the first large-scale attempt to enlist high school, collegiate and professional athletes in the effort to prevent all forms of men's violence against women. Utilizing a unique bystander approach to gender violence prevention, the MVP Program views student-athletes and student leaders not as potential perpetrators or victims, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers. Program participants develop leadership skills and learn to mentor and educate younger boys and girls on these issues.


Teen Dating Violence Websites