Teen dating violence or relationship abuse is the use of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal force by one dating partner towards another dating partner.
Abuse can cause injury and even death but it doesn’t have to be physical. It can take many different forms including:
- constant text messaging or instant messaging
- insults, isolation from family and friends
- sexual abuse,
- emotional abuse
- controlling a partner’s behavior and appearance.
It can happen to anyone, at any age, no matter what their race, religion, sexual orientation, level of education or economic background may be.
What are the Warning Signs?
Are you in an abusive relationship? Do you:
- make excuses and apologize for your partner’s behaviors?
- have unexplained injuries, such as bruises or body pain?
- isolate yourself from family and friends and only deal with your partner?
- have a dating partner who constantly texts or calls and demands to know where and with whom you have been?
- change your behavior in order not to anger or upset your partner?
- change the way you dress in order to please your partner?
- have a dating partner who puts you down and calls you names in front of others?
- have a partner who acts extremely jealous when others pay attention to you?
Ten Warning Signs of Abuse
While there are many warning signs of abuse, here are ten common abusive behaviors:
- Checking your cell phone or email without permission
- Constantly putting you down
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Explosive temper
- Isolating you from family or friends
- Making false accusations
- Mood swings
- Physically hurting you in any way
- Telling you what to do
A Pattern of Behavior
Calling dating violence a pattern doesn’t mean the first instance of abuse is not dating violence. It just recognizes that dating violence usually involves a series of abusive behaviors over a course of time.
Every relationships is different, but the one thing that is common to most abusive dating relationships is that the violence escalates over time and becomes more and more dangerous for the young victim.
Power and Control
The definition also points out that at the core of dating violence are issues of power and control. The diagram below from loveisrespect.org details how violent words and actions are tools an abusive partner uses to gain and maintain power and control over his or her partner.
Experience an interactive Teen Power and Control Wheel.