Teen Dating Violence

As you read through this, it is important to know that the Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes, Inc. is here to give support, education, and comfort to teens who are now or have been involved in a relationship with an abusive partner. We realize that when a teenager is being abused either physically, emotionally, or sexually, it takes a lot of courage to talk to another person about that experience. The decision to remain silent may have serious consequences, now and in the future. If you choose to call us, you can be assured that your confidentiality will be respected.

If you need information or support in handling a relationship with an abusive partner and feel more comfortable having someone else call (a friend, a trusted teacher, parent or minister), ask them to contact us.

Dating Relationships: Caring or Controlling?

Teen dating abuse exists in our high schools but many teens know nothing about it. Most teens don’t recognize certain behaviors as abusive. The fact is, most batterers begin their abusive behavior early in life ( middle school, high school, college). Many times these signs go unrecognized and lead to further violence in the future.

What is Dating Violence?

Dating abuse is any act by one dating partner that is used to obtain power and control in the relationship. It happens in many ways. It may begin with verbal and emotional “put-downs” or criticisms, which hurt the other’s self-esteem and promote feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and guilt. Physical and sexual abuse may follow.

Early Warning Signs of Teen Dating Abuse

If you are dating someone who:

  • does all of the decision-making for both of you without consulting you first

  • calls you on the telephone more than once a day, on a consistent basis to find out what you are doing

  • is jealous and possessive toward you, won’t let you have close friends, and checks up on you

  • has a history of bad relationships and blames the other person for the problems in the relationship

  • treats you badly or embarrasses you in front of others

  • hits, shoves, or throws things at you when he/she is jealous or angry

  • expects you to be interested in everything that interests him/her

  • criticizes your thoughts, feelings, opinions, beliefs, and actions on a consistent basis

  • threatens to harm you if you leave, puts you on a pedestal and says, “You need me to protect you.”

  • has rigid likes/dislikes and ideas about the ways things should be done.

These are only a sample of controlling behaviors that an abuser may use to obtain power over a dating partner. Sometimes, the signs of an abusive partner occur early in the relationship. Other times, the abuser will try to gain the partner’s trust and commitment before displaying these signs. Either way, it is important to be aware of uncomfortable feelings and take steps to leave the abuser as soon as possible.