Dating violence among teens and young adults is more common than most people think. Scarily, 1 in 3 teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become adults.[i]
These are high school students and college students – our daughters, sisters and friends. Unhealthy relationships can begin early in life and the consequences can last a lifetime. What seems like harmless dating behavior can develop into much more serious forms of violence later on.
Girls and young women who have experienced dating violence are often at risk for other psychological problems. The abuse can lead to drug use, eating disorders and even suicide.[ii]
Just as in abusive adult relationships, there are dating violence victims who don’t survive. It’s critical to understand the warning signs and know where to reach out for help before the abuse escalates.
Understanding where a relationship crosses over from healthy to abusive is important. Look for the signs:
- Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission
- 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
- Telling someone what to do
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex[iii]
Dating violence is dangerous and many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell their family and friends what they are experiencing. If you suspect that someone you care about is experiencing dating abuse, be a support system to them. Listen. Do not make judgments. Call our free and confidential Hotline at 412-687-8005 for support. Our Advocates are available 24/7 and can give you the resources that you need. Visit Love is Respect and How to Identify and Intervene in Teen Dating Violence for additional information.