Teen Dating Abuse
Dating Abuse is defined as a pattern of repeated actual or threatened acts, intended to control or instill fear in a member of an unmarried couple.
These acts may include physical, sexual, verbal, mental or emotional abuse.
Dating abuse can happen to anyone. It doesn't matter how old you are, how much money you have, how athletic or popular you are or who your family is. Anyone can find themselves involved with someone who chooses to use these controlling behaviors.
Examples of Tactics of Abuse
The Teen Power & Control Wheel is a helpful tool if you are unsure whether or not your relationship is unsafe. Check out the link below and see if your partner has ever said any of these things to you. If so, they may be signs of an abusive relationship.
"You can't talk to any guys."
"I thought we agreed you weren't going to wear that skirt."
"I wouldn't have called you a slut if you hadn't been talking to your ex."
"Why do you want to hang out with them? They're losers."
"Your parents don't understand our relationship."
"Call me when you get there, tell me who's there and when you're leaving."
"Who's more important- me or them?"
"If you really loved me you'd have sex with me."
"If you don't want to sleep with me, I'm just going to get it somewhere else."
"I'm not wearing a condom."
"You don't know anything, you're so stupid."
"Who would want to be with you if we broke up? You're fat."
"You're a bitch."
"You can't waitress; you'll flirt with every guy."
"If you take that job I'll never see you. Is that what you want?"
"You should pay for dinner; didn't you get paid today?"
Physical and Psychological Abuse:
"If you just would have shut your mouth I wouldn't have hit you!"
"If you leave me, I'll kill myself."
"If you tell anyone, I'll hurt your family."
"The only reason why people like you is because of me."
"You're just a girl."
"I'm the one that makes the money."
Minimize, Deny and Blame:
"I didn't mean to push you, I was so drunk."
"I'm just really stressed about school and work; what do you expect?"
"I can't always control my anger."
Dating Abuse Red Flags
Along with the Power & Control Wheel it is important to recognize the red flags or warning signs of dating abuse. It is impossible to say for sure who will or won't abuse their partner and who will or won't be abused by their partner. Below you will find a list of behaviors that are common among someone choosing to use abusive behavior.
Does Your Partner:
- Expect you to spend all of your time with him/her or to "check in" with and let them know where you are?
- Act extremely jealous and/or possessive?
- Treat you with disrespect/put you down?
- Put down family/friends, your dreams, ideas or goals?
- Lose his/her temper frequently over little things?
- Make threats to hurt you/leave you/hurt your pets/destroy property/and or threaten to kill themselves if you do not do what he/she wants?
- Play mind games or make you feel guilty?
- Refuse to take responsibility for his/her actions. Does he/she blame it on drugs/alcohol, his/her boss, parents etc for their behavior?
- Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
- Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner's behavior?
- Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
- Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
- Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
If you are worried for a friend in their relationships, you can make a difference by knowing what is helpful and what is hurtful:
- Do not blame someone for what is happening or put them down for caring about someone who is choosing to use controlling behaviors.
- Believe them.
- Trust that they are the experts for themselves.
- Offer support and resources.
- Name the behavior and say it isn't okay.
- Do not threaten someone. It might make it more dangerous for their partner.
If you observe someone using controlling or abusive behaviors
Here are some resources for teens and others interested in learning more about Dating Abuse:
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474