Teen Dating Violence 101

"The act of love is to say: I want you to be who you are."
The act of abuse is to say: "I want you to be who I want you to be."
It is that simple. — James D. Gill

What is Teen Dating Violence?

Teen dating violence is the act or threat of violence by one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within a dating relationship. This can include any form of sexual, physical, verbal, emotional, financial, and/or digital abuse.

Teen Dating Statistics

  • About one in three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship.
  • Nearly one in five teenage girls who have been in a relationship report a boyfriend had threatened violence toward her or threatened to injure himself over a breakup.
  • 40% of teenage girls ages 14 to 17 say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
  • In one study, from 30 to 50 percent of female high school students reported having already experienced teen dating violence.
  • Teen dating violence most often takes place in the home of one of the partners.
  • One in five (or 20 percent) of dating couples report some type of violence in their relationship.
  • One of five college females will experience some form of dating violence.
  • A survey of 500 young women, ages 15 to 24, found that 60 percent were currently involved in an ongoing abusive relationship and all participants had experienced violence in a dating relationship.
  • More than half of young women raped (68%) knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend or casual acquaintance.
  • More than 70% of pregnant teens or female teen parents are beaten by their boyfriends.
  • 16% of Ohio high school females report having been physically forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to.

Warning Signs of an abusive relationship

  • Jealousy - The abuser will say that jealousy is a sign of love.
  • Possessiveness and controlling behavior - The abuser will repeatedly call and ask where he/she has been, get angry when he/she pays attention to someone.
  • Verbal criticisms and abuse - Ridicule, criticisms, and insults are continual and makes the victim feel degraded and worthless.
  • Continual checking up on the victim - The abuser may spy or continually check up on the victim and ask for an account of whereabouts.
  • Social isolation - The victim is isolated from all personal and social resources. This gives the abuser a sense of control.
  • Violent behaviors when using drugs and alcohol - Many abusers will use drugs and alcohol and become violent. Frequently, they will pressure their dates to use substances as well.
  • Blame - the abuser will often blame the victim by saying things like: "You asked for it" or "You made me mad."
  • Threats of suicide - Abusers will threaten to hurt or kill themselves if their partner threatens to break up.
  • Uses guilt trips - the abuser will frequently say - "If you really loved me, you would..."
  • Broken promises - They ask for a chance to make up for their behavior, stating that they will change.
  • Forced sex - Abusers will frequently force their partners to have sex or intimidate him/her so that he/she is afraid to say no.

What to look for...

  • Bruises, scratches or other injuries
  • Failing grades
  • Dropping out of school activities
  • Avoiding friends and social events
  • Indecision
  • Changes in clothes or make-up
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Secrecy
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Crying spells or hysteria fits
  • Constant thoughts about the dating partner
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sudden changes in mood or personality
  • Fearfulness around the dating partner when his or her name is mentioned

Take the test: warning signs of abuse

The excitement of being in a relationship can stop you from seeing the warning signs of abuse. Remember, you don't have to have broken bones or a black eye to be abused. If you check more than two below you may want to get help. You can also take a variety of relationship quizzes regarding your relationship at loveisrespect.org.

Are you going out with someone who...

  • Is jealous and possessive toward you, checks up on you, and belittles you in front of family and friends?

  • Won't accept that you are breaking up with him/her?
  • Tries to control you, doesn't like you being with friends, makes all the decisions, and doesn't take your opinion seriously?
  • Scares you by his/her reactions to things you say or do?
  • Threatens you by using weapons?
  • Is violent, has a history of fighting or losing his/her temper, and brags about mistreating others
  • Destroys or damages your personal property?
  • Forces you to have sex, or is aggressive during sex? Pressures you to have unsafe sex?
  • Thinks women or girls are sex objects?
  • Attempts to manipulate you or becomes too serious about the relationship too quickly?
  • Uses drugs or alcohol and tries to get you to take them too?
  • Has a history of bad relationships, or blames you when he or she mistreats you?
  • Hits, chokes, punches, kicks, slaps, pulls your hair or physically hurts you?
  • Your family and friends have told you they were concerned about your safety?

Violence is not a normal part of any relationship.
Abuse is not your fault.