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Teen Dating Violence
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Teen Dating Is A Big Problem!

The Simple and Devastating Facts


The majority of teenagers in the United States have dating relationships and teens say dating violence is common:


      In one survey, over 40 percent of male and female high school students said they had been victims of dating violence at least once

      89 percent of teenagers beween the ages of 13 and 18 say they have been in dating relationships

      50 percent to 80 percent of teens have reported knowing others who were involved in violent relationships

      15 percent of teen girls and boys have reported being victims of severe dating violence (defined as being hit, kicked, thrown down or attacked with a weapon) in the past year

      40 percent of teenage girls ages 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend

      8 percent of 8th and 9th grade students have reported being victims of sexual dating violence


What do we mean when we talk about Dating Violence?

Dating violence isn't an argument every once in a while, or a bad mood after a bad day.  Dating violence (or relationship abuse) is a pattern of violent behavior that someone uses against a girlfriend or boyfriend.  Abuse can cause injury and even death, but it doesn't have to be physical.  It can include verbal and emotional abuse - constant insults, isolation from friends and family, name calling, controlling what someone wears- and it can also include sexual abuse.  It can happen to anyone, at any age, no matter what race or religion they are , no matter what their level of education or economic background.  Dating violence also occurs in same-sex relationships.


Teen Dating Violence Is . . .

        Teen dating violence is abusive and violent behavior in teen dating relationships

         It reflects the perpetrator's desire to control and dominate the victim

         It happens in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships

         It covers a wide range of behavior that includes verbal and emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and physical violence


Verbal or emotional abuse

includes name-calling, threats, screaming, yelling, ridiculing, criticizing, emotional blackmailing, and stalking


Sexual abuse

includes verbal sexual abuse such as sexual slurs or attacks on the victim's gender or sexual orientation, unwanted sexual touching and kissing, intimidation to force the victim to engage in any kind of sexual activity, and rape


Physical abuse

includes shoving, punching, slapping, pinching, hitting, kicking, hair pulling, choking, use of a weapon, and any other acts causing physical harm


The Victims Of Teen Dating Violence . . .

         Teens in all ethnic groups, socioeconomic groups, and geographic regions experience dating violence

         Both male and female teens may be victims-but boys inflict more serious physical injuries on girls than girls inflict on boys


Who is most at risk?

         Boys are more likely to be pinched, slapped, scratched, or kicked by dating partners

         Girls are much more at risk for severe violence, sexual violence, and injuries requiring medical attention

         Girls are more likely to be punched and forced to engage in unwanted sexual activity

         Some girls become pregnant as the result of rape or because their boyfriends won't let them use contraceptives

         Pregnant teens are at greater risk for physical assault by intimate partners

         Girls experience more psychological abuse from dating partners than boys

         Young women, ages 16 to 24 years, experience the highest rates of relationship violence


Who are the perpetrators?

         Both male and female teens commit dating violence but boys initiate the violence more often, use greater force, and are more repeatedly abusive to their dating partners than girls.

         Almost three-quarters of perpetrators have also been victims of teen dating violence

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The Dynamics and Impact of Teen Dating Violence

The Experience of Teens involved in Dating Violence....

         Dating violence may first emerge as occasional outbursts that both victims and perpetrators interpret as expressions of passion or attempts to improve their relationship

         Many victims are threatened, criticized, and humiliated by dating partners-making them feel stupid, incapable, lazy, ugly, worthless, helpless, crazy, or trapped


In some relationships, dating violence may never move beyond emotional and verbal abuse. In other relationships, it may escalate from verbal abuse to physical and sexual violence, or involve a mix of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse from the start:


         Many victims experience more than one type of abuse

         In some relationships the abuse only happens from time to time, while in others it continues day after day without a break

         The abuse can be minor or involve serious violence that gets worse and more frightening over time

         Girls are frequently pinched, slapped, grabbed, and shoved but may also get pressured to engage in sex or drug taking, or raped

         Perpetrators may use a variety of oppressive techniques to control victims-such as forcing partners to carry pagers or cell phones and respond immediately when called to say where they are and what they are doing

         Sometimes there's a pattern-tension builds up, violence erupts, the abuser calms down, for a while everything seems fine, then tension increases again, and the cycle is repeated

         Victims may or may not see a pattern in the abuser's behavior

         Some abusers never apologize for their behavior. Others promise to stop the violence, give their partners gifts, and beg forgiveness-but if the victim accepts the apologies, it's usually only a matter of time before the violence resumes

         Abuse and violence is often linked (directly or indirectly) to alcohol or drug habits- but the fact that an abuser is drunk or high can never excuse the behavior


Do all victims respond to dating violence in the same way?

In general:

         Girls are more likely to be upset, to cry, and to fight back

         Boys are more likely to laugh at dating violence, take it less seriously than girls, or ignore it

Individual victim responses may include

         Confusion about the violence and their relationship with the abuser

         Anxiety about what will happen to them

         Uneasiness about how to deal with the situation

         Shame because they know it's not right

         Self-blame feeling they've done something to provoke the violence

         Low-self esteem feeling they don't deserve to be treated well

         Fear of being seriously hurt, of becoming pregnant

         Depression feeling despairing, tearful, helpless and hopeless, suicidal

         Denial-a tendency to deny or minimize the violence

         Defense of the abuser-to protect him/her from blame

         Use of alcohol or drugs-to escape anxiety or pain

         Feelings of loneliness or isolation-because the abuser has isolated the victim from friends and family and stopped her/him having a normal social life


Why do many teens keep dating violence secret?

Very few teens tell their parents or other adults they are involved in abusive relationships, some tell their friends, others tell no one.

Explanations for secretiveness include:

         Failure to understand they are victims

         Embarrassment, shame, confusion

         Threats from the abuser

         Fear the abuser will take revenge if they say anything

         Concern their parents will prevent them seeing the abuser

         Concern they will lose privileges-like use of a car or freedom to go out as they please


What keeps teens in abusive dating relationships?

Reasons vary but include

         Continuing emotional attachment feeling in love with/attracted to the abuser

         Fear that the abuser will hurt or kill them if they leave

         Lack of experience with healthy, non-abusive relationships

         Confusing jealousy and possessiveness with romance

         Social pressure to have and keep a boyfriend/girlfriend

         Isolation or alienation from friends and family members

         Feelings of low self-esteem and lack of confidence

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How Can You Tell If You Are A Victim Of Teen Dating Violence?


Is my boyfriend/girlfriend

         Jealous and possessive?

         Controlling and bossy?

         Quick tempered, with a history of fighting?

         Violent towards me or other people? Does my dating partner

         Give me orders and make all the decisions?

         Check up on me all the time?

         Refuse to allow me normal contact with my family and friends?

         Try to humiliate me?

         Call me names and insult me?

         Accuse me of having no sense of humor?

         Accuse me of provocation?

         Force me to have sex when I don't want to?

         Use alcohol or drugs and pressure me to do the same?

         Pressure me to have unprotected sex?

         Like to wrestle with me 'playfully' and hurt me?


Has my dating partner

         Threatened to commit suicide if I leave the relationship or don't do what he/she wants?

         Attempted suicide because I wouldn't do what he/she wanted?

         Harassed or threatened me, or a former dating partner?

         Refused to accept the relationship isn't working or is over?


Why would I stay in an abusive relationship?

         You may be convinced the bad behavior will stop-because your partner apologizes, gives you gifts, and promises to behave better in future

         You may have been taught to be forgiving or be forgiving by nature

         You may not see the behavior as part of a pattern of abuse

         You may not realize you are not responsible for the behavior

         You may believe you are at fault and provoked the abuse

         You may love your partner and not want to lose him/her

         You may fear being left alone with no dating partner

         You may know your partner was in the wrong, but are upset, frightened, and don't know what to do or where to turn.


Points to Remember

         Whatever the pattern or nature of the abuse, it's a sign of an unhealthy relationship

         In healthy, nonabusive relationships, partners do not hurt each other

         You are not to blame for your dating partner's abuse

         Abusers are solely responsible for their behavior-whatever their habits or weaknesses

         Alcohol and drug abuse may partly explain partner abuse but can never excuse it or make it right

         If you are a teen mother, it is especially important to seek help and advice to ensure the safety and welfare of your child or children

         Teen dating violence can cause long-term emotional and physical harm-you should take it seriously

         Victim services professionals are there to advise and assist you-they can help you find the support and services you need.

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on teen dating violence or give us a call.


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If you are in a dating violence relationship

or know someone that is because. . .


Violence Shouldn't Be A Right Of Passage!