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Dating Violence
Dating violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power in the relationship. The abuser intentionally behaves in ways that cause fear, degradation, and humiliation to control the other person. Forms of abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional and psychological.

If you think you, or someone you know is a victim of dating violence, know that:
  1. You are not alone
  2. The abuse is not your fault
  3. Trust your gut feelings and instincts
  4. Surround yourself with supportive people
Believe It – It Is Happening
  1. Nearly 1 in 5 high school students will experience physical violence from someone they’re dating. Even more teens will experience verbal or emotional abuse during the relationship.

  2. Between 10 and 25 percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 24 will be the victims of rape or attempted rape. In more than half of those cases, the attacker is someone the girl goes out with.

  3. Girls are not the only ones who are abused physically or emotionally in relationships. Boys also experience abuse, especially psychological abuse. Boys rarely are hurt physically in relationships, but when it happens, it’s often severe. Boys also can be pressured or forced into unwanted sex, by girls or by other boys.

  4. Violence happens in same-sex relationships too. When it does, gay and lesbian teenagers often don’t know where to turn for help. If they are not comfortable telling people they’re gay it makes their situation even harder.

  5. Often a relationship doesn’t start out violent, but the violence starts after the two people have known each other for a while. The one big exception is forced sex, sometimes called “date rape” or “acquaintance rape”. Forced sex can sometimes happen the first or second time two people go out, especially when one person has very little dating experience and is afraid to say “no”.

  6. If you think something is wrong, it probably is.
Source: American Psychological Association, Love Doesn’t Have to Hurt Teens

Understand the Warning Signs
Just because a person isn’t physically hurting you doesn’t mean they aren’t abusing you. Violence and abuse have no place in a relationship. Dating violence or violence in any relationship is not about love or caring. It’s about one person trying to control another person. Is the person you’re dating abusive? Answering the following questions may help you decide:
  1. Does your partner insult or make fun of you?

  2. Does your partner think their feelings are more important than yours?

  3. Is your partner jealous when you want to see your family, friends or be in certain social situations?

  4. Does your partner ever try to get you drunk or high?

  5. Has your partner ever thrown things, hit, kicked, shoved, strangled or grabbed you?

  6. Do you often apologize or make excuses for your partner’s behavior, especially when they have treated you badly?

  7. Are you afraid to break up with your partner because they have threatened to hurt you or themselves?

  8. Has your partner forced you to have sex or perform any sexual acts when you didn’t want to?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to re-evaluate your relationship.

Change the Situation
  1. Don’t think violence and abuse will just stop; violent behavior doesn't simply go away.

  2. Get support – talk to someone – a counselor, a coach, a teacher, a parent, a doctor, a minister or rabbi, or a close friend can help you get a better understanding of the situation and what you can do to change it. Know that you’re not alone and there are people who are available to listen and support you and your decisions.

  3. Take care of yourself and understand that there are ways to change the situation you’re in.

  4. Make sure you’re safe – read how to create a Teen Dating Safety Plan.

  5. Demand respect – you should never stay in a relationship where you’ve been hurt physically, sexually, and/or emotionally. Tell your partner what they are doing to you is unacceptable and that the abuse has to stop.

  6. Find help – asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s about getting the help and support you deserve. Abuse is serious, and you deserve better. If you’re not sure how to safely remove yourself from an abusive relationship, contact LifeWire's 24 hour crisis line at 425-746-1940. Our trained volunteers and advocates offer resources including crisis intervention, safety planning, emotional support and information about domestic violence.

More Info
There are times when no matter what precautions someone takes a violent incident will occur in a relationship. The following Safety Plans identify some of the precautions you can take to reduce your risk. This information will also help you to know what to do if you are victimized in a violent relationship. For more information about teen dating violence, visit the Love is Respect and Love is Not Abuse websites sponsored by Liz Claiborne.
  1. Teen Dating Safety Plan [pdf]
  2. ABC’s of Teen Dating Violence [pdf]
  3. Teen Dating Bill of Rights [pdf]
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