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Dating abuse is a controlling pattern of negative behaviors.

Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Dating violence often starts with teasing and name calling. These behaviors are often thought to be a “normal” part of a relationship. But these behaviors can lead to more serious violence like physical assault and rape.

These behaviors include psychological, social, and emotional abuse, as well as physical and sexual violence. The goal of the abuser is to establish power over, and control of, the other person. Dating abuse crosses all age groups, races, cultures, religions, educational and employment backgrounds.

Emotional abuse can include name calling, highlighting perceived faults in your appearance, or personality. Emotional abuse also includes blackmail ‘if you really love me you’d…’.

Social abuse is manipulation by your partner to dictate who you see, and meet, even who you email, and text. You may find yourself cutting ties with friends to avoid arguments. Isolation is the goal. The less people you see, the more influence the abuser can exercise over you.


Sexual abuse is the pressure of feeling, or being, forced to participate in a sexual activity, against your will or better judgment.

  • Victims of dating abuse almost always show signs of depression.

  • Anger is one of the leading causes of dating abuse.

  • Anger escalates and leads to more serious acts of abuse and violence.

  • Indirect violence can occur, including destruction of objects and possessions.

  • Verbal violence includes name calling, threats, insults and put-downs.

  • Threats may be made against the people you love, your family, friends and even your pets.

  • Alcohol can be a contributory factor. It is NOT an excuse.

  • Abusers will attempt to limit your social circle.

  • Abusers will go through text messages, emails, Facebook pages, school planners, generally invading your privacy.

  • Abusers will intimidate you.

  • Abusers will humiliate you.

  • Abusers may stalk you.



Teen dating abuse violence (TDV) is defined as physical, sexual, or psychological violence within a close relationship. TDV isn’t an argument every once in a while, or a bad mood after a bad day. TDV is a pattern of controlling behavior that someone uses against a girlfriend or boyfriend. In addition to the risk for injury and death, victims of dating violence are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, eating disorders, substance use, and suicidal ideation/attempts. (1)

  • 40 percent of girls age 14-17 report knowing someone their age
    who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend. (2)

  • 1 in 10 teens report being a victim of physical dating abuse each year. (3)

  • 1 in 4 teens reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse each year. (4)


(1) Adverse Health Conditions and Health Risk Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence — United States, 2005, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Feb 8, 2008. MMWR:57(No. 5)
(2) Children Now/Kaiser Permanente Poll, December 1995
(3) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). June 6, 2008. MMWR:57(No. SS-4). Table 11
(4) Choose Respect, Causing Pain: Real Stories of Dating Abuse and Violence Video Discussion Guide, 2007. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Appendix A, p – 113.


What is a healthy relationship? How do you know that you have
a healthy relationship? 
Partnerships should:

  • Bring happiness

  • Bring comfort

  • Boost your confidence and make you feel good about yourself

  • Grow – change together

  • Be positive

  • Have down time

  • Embrace each others’ schedules

  • Value each others’ opinions

  • Respect each others’ privacy


Ask yourself these important questions when you think about

your relationship. Your honest answers can help you determine

if your relationship is healthy or if it is a cause for concern.

  • Do you see things from each others’ point of view?

  • Do you think that your partner is the one that needs to change?

  • Do you communicate your needs clearly?

  • Are there things that you, yourself, would like to change?

  • Can you find a voice for changes that will be met with respect?

  • Do you treat your partner the way you like to be treated?

  • Do you compromise (work something out when there are
    conflicting opinions or desires – you each give and take a little
    for the benefit of the relationship)?

  • Do you trust?

  • Can you and your partner hang with friends separately
    or do you need to be in constant contact?

  • Do you give your partner freedom to be themself?


Image by Jonas Weckschmied
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