a teenager is exciting, challenging, and confusing.
Dating is one of the most awesome things about being
a teen. Your teen years are a time when you find your
place in the world, and are faced with a lot of challenges.
Although dating can be fun and exciting, it can create
issues. You may have difficulty deciding if you want
to date just one person, or go out with lots of people.
You may feel rejected by someone you ask out and they
turn you down. You may have fights with your partner.
You might feel hurt, or could hurt your partner, if
one of you decides to end the relationship. There
are no simple solutions. Learning how to deal with
these issues is one of the challenges of dating. It's
part of growing up.
While we want to believe that hand holding, moonlight
walks, gifts, sweet words, and loving glances are
all part of a dating relationship, and that these
new feelings and experiences are so wonderful
it isn't always that way!
You could be in a relationship where your partner
is verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually
abusive. Maybe you're afraid of your partner. Maybe
you think that it's your job to make the relationship
work. Maybe you don't know that it's notokay for your
partner to beat you. Maybe you're afraid that there's
no one else in the whole world who would want you.
Maybe you think it's your fault that your partner
is so abusive
they don't treat
anyone else that way. Maybe you're afraid to tell
Dating violence affects about one in ten teen couples.
Teenagers can often misinterpret abusive and violent
behavior as a show of love. Hitting, yelling, threatening,
name calling, and using and hurting you sexually isn't
Verbal and emotional abuse can include ridiculing,
name-calling, threats, constant criticism, controlling,
belittling, and other negative behavior to scare their
partner or destroy her/his self-esteem. Both men and
women have long-term effects from this type of abuse.
Verbal abuse, like physical abuse, is rooted in the
low self-esteem of a partner. It's also rooted in
the helplessness, guilt, and confusion of a partner
who allows another to treat them this way. Submitting
to this behavior in the name of love doesn't work
and is self-destructive.
Date rape is rape! Whether by a friend or acquaintance,
it's a punishable crime! Males and females have very
different ideas about what dating means. A man may
expect it to end in a sexual experience. That's not
always true. A woman may view it in friendly or romantic
terms. A rapist uses assault as power and control.
He'll use force to get his date to do what he wants.
He may not be overtly violent - that's why date rape
is hard to prove. Sometimes his victim isn't even
sure she's been raped. She may feel confused and guilty
about the assault - not angry.
Abuse usually happens because one or both partners
has been abused as a child, or comes from a family
where one or both parents is abusive. The media also
plays a part in portraying violence. The abusive partner
has not learned positive and peaceful ways of solving
problems. They don't know how to deal with fear, jealousy,
or anger which can trigger violence. These problems
begin in the way people learn to relate to others
Signs of Abusive and Violent Behavior
- Does your partner get jealous when you go out or talk
- Does your partner constantly check up on you, call
or page you, and demand to know where
you've been, and who you've been with?
- Do you find your partner saying "I can't live
without you? If you leave me, I'll kill myself."
- Does your partner frighten or intimidate you?
- Does your partner frequently cancel plans at the last
minute, for reasons that don't sound true?
- Does your
partner try to restrict you on the way you dress or
criticize your appearance?
- Do you feel like you have to justify everything to
- Are you constantly apologizing and making excuses
for your partner's behavior?
- Are you afraid to break up with your partner because
you're afraid for your personal safety?
Does your partner call you names and put you down in
front of others?
- Are you afraid to disagree with your partner, or make
- Has your partner forced or intimidated you into having
- Does your partner put you down and then tell you he/she
- Has your partner held you down, pushed, or hit you?
- Has your partner thrown things at you?
- Does your partner make you choose between him/her,
or family and friends?
- Have you seen your partner lose his/her temper, maybe
even break things when they're mad?
- Does your partner beat you and then apologize, saying
they'll change and they'll never do
Dating Violence is a pattern of violent behavior! It
can also occur in same-sex relationships.
If you find yourself in a violent or potentially violent
- Keep a dated record of the abuse
how minor it seems
- Don't meet your partner alone or let him/her in your
home or car when you're alone
- Avoid being alone at school, work and on the way to
and from places
- Vary your routes and times of travel to and from home,
school & work
- Tell someone where you're going and when you'll be
back and plan and rehearse what
you'll do if your partner confronts you or becomes abusive
- Most importantly: think of your own physical safety!
Reach out for help to family, friends, police, counselors
or a spouse abuse center.
Remember, you cannot change the behavior of another
Help a Friend Who's in an Abusive Relationship:
- Express your understanding, care, concern and support
- Listen to your friend and don't be judgmental
- Tell your friend that violence under any circumstance
- Encourage your friend to confide in a trusted adult
and suggest they see a counselor or advisor
you both trust
- Never put yourself in a dangerous situation be being
- Call the police if you witness an assault
your friend enough to do it
- Be critical of your friend's partner
- Ask blaming questions
- Assume your friend wants to break up with his/her
partner, or that you know what's best for
What You Can Do:
- Start a peer education program on teen dating violence
and present programs at school, church,
clubs, or in your community
- Ask your school library to purchase books about dating,
child, and domestic violence
Raise awareness by making posters or hosting programs
at school during National Child Abuse Prevention
month in April and during National Domestic Violence
Awareness month in October
- Produce plays in your drama program that address teen
violence, child abuse and domestic
- Get involved with a child abuse prevention group
that's where Dating and Domestic Violence
Places to Contact for Further Information:
- Local Battered Women's Shelters or Rape Crisis
- Dating Violence Hotline 1-888-799-SAFE
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800-799-7233
- Rape Abuse and Incest National Network Hotline 1-800-656-4673
- Childhelp USA 1.800-4-A-Child