Dating violence is becoming increasingly common among teenagers. Nearly 21 percent of female high school students and 14 percent of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by their partner. That’s an estimated 1.5 million high school students in the United States who are physically abused by partners every year.
It can happen to any teen in a romantic, dating or sexual relationship, at any time. As a parent or guardian, you can help if you know the facts and warning signs.
What is Teen Dating Violence?
Teen dating violence, also called intimate relationship violence, includes any physical, psychological or sexual abuse, harassment or stalking of any person age 12 to 18.
Teen dating violence can be any one, or a combination, of the following:
- Physical – Hitting, shaking, throwing things, pushing, biting or using a weapon.
- Emotional – Name-calling, isolating a dating partner from others, telling lies, keeping a date from leaving, threatening to hurt oneself, ignoring a date’s feelings, or insulting a date’s beliefs or values.
- Sexual – Forcing a date to have sex, forcing someone to have sex without protection or forcing a date to do other sexual acts he or she doesn’t want to do.
No two relationships are the same, so it can often be difficult to tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Here are some common warning signs of dating violence to watch out for:
- 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 or hurt in any way,
- Possessiveness, telling someone what to do or repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex,
- Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission.
Is teen dating violence preventable?
Teen dating violence is preventable, and the goal of prevention is to stop dating violence before it even begins. During the preteen and teen years, young people are still learning about what it takes to foster positive, healthy relationships with other people. This is the time to promote and encourage healthy relationships and prevent a pattern of relationship violence that can last into adulthood.
ACCESS offers a wide range of behavioral health services and programs to help you or someone you know who may be a victim of dating violence. Our providers are clinically trained to connect you to the right specialists at the right time, so please contact us if you feel you or someone you know could benefit from behavioral health care.