Teen Dating Abuse

Teen Dating Abuse

What is Teen Dating Abuse?

Dating abuse is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in-person or electronically, and might occur between a current or former dating partner. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime.  Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017


Who is Affected by Teen Dating Abuse?

Dating violence is a serious problem many young people are facing. 1 in 3 teens in the US experiences physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, (loveisrespect.org) and teens have some of the highest rates of sexual assault across age groups. LGBT teens are particularly vulnerable to dating abuse, but it’s important to know that dating abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, orientation, race or ethnicity, family background, or income level. Teens are particularly vulnerable, as they may not be able to access legal or support services without the help of a parent or guardian.

Power and Control: Use this helpful tool if you are unsure whether or not your relationship is unsafe. Check out the list below and see if your partner has ever said any of these things to you. If so, this may be a sign you are in an abusive relationship.

Power & Control Wheel Developed by Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs of Duluth, Minnesota.

Red Flags - Dating abuse may include but are not limited to, if your partner:

  • Expects you to spend all of your time with him/her or to "check in" with and let them know where you are?
  • Acts extremely jealous and/or possessive?
  • Treats you with disrespect/put you down?
  • Pressures you to send them sexually explicit photos or texts?
  • Puts down family/friends, your dreams, ideas or goals?
  • Loses his/her temper frequently over little things?
  • Makes 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?
  • Insists on knowing your online passwords and/or demand to look through your phone or social media accounts?
  • Plays mind games or make you feel guilty?
  • Refuses to take responsibility for his/her actions or blame them on drugs/alcohol, his/her boss, parents etc.?


Likewise, if you:

  • 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’s safety in their relationship, 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.


If you observe someone using controlling or abusive behaviors:

  • Name the behavior and say it isn't okay.
  • Do not threaten someone. It might endanger their partner.