5 Things to Know about Teen Dating Violence

It started with him saying he didn’t like my shorts.

Then he would throw a fit if I hung out with my friends.

He became jealous but I thought it was because he really cared about me.

He said I was ugly and he was the only one who would want me.

Top 5 things to know about Teen Dating Violence:

1 – TDV HAPPENS! Teen dating violence (TDV) is defined by the National Institute of Violence as intimate relationship violence that includes physical, psychological or sexual abuse; harassment; or stalking of any person ages 12 to 18 in the context of a past or present romantic or consensual relationship. One in ten high school students has been purposely hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.1 More than half of women (69.5%) and men (53.6%) who have been physically or sexually abused, or stalked by a dating partner, first experienced abuse between the ages of 11-24.2

2 – Know what TDV looks like. TDV often looks very similar to adult forms of intimate partner violence. This list from Love Is Respect lists behaviors that an abuser may use:

  • Checking partner’s cell phone or email without permission
  • Constantly putting their partner down
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Explosive temper
  • Isolating their partner from family or friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting their partner in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling their partner what to do
  • Pressuring or forcing their partner to have sex
  • Threatening to share or sharing explicit photos or texts

3 – Recognize the warning signs. Warning signs in teens may be different than for adults in violent intimate partnerships.  You may notice that your teen has unexplained bruises or more frequent bruising. They may develop an unhealthy attachment to their partner and stop socializing with their normal group of friends. Keep an eye out for a sudden change in personality or behavior. There may also be a shift in behavior especially after receiving a text or using social media.

Technology is an easy way for abusers to control and monitor their partner. A teen may be required to verify or prove their whereabouts with their partner or check in with them multiple times. With social media and the rise of sexting, many teens are pressured to share sexually explicit texts and images of themselves. This is another way an abuser can manipulate and control their victim.

4 – Learn HOW to talk to your teen. In a recent survey by The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, teens requested more “askable adults”. Be a listening ear. Be nonjudgmental and supportive. Reassure them that no one has the right to hurt them. Remind them that jealousy is NOT a sign of love: it is instead a sign of possessiveness and control. Remind them of their worth.

5 – Know WHEN to talk to your teen about TDV. Start now. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. This is the perfect time to talk to your teen about what teen dating violence looks like, sounds like, and feels like. How to know if they are being abusive and how to know if they are being abused. Start with your pre-teen and talk about healthy relationships among friends, consent, and bullying. These conversations will pave the way for future talks about romantic relationships, sex, and violence within relationships.

When in doubt, reach out to your local domestic violence group for assistance. Call PAVEs 24-hour hotline at (802) 442-2111 for assistance in talking to your teen. We are also available to speak to teens directly.

1- Grunbaum JA, Kann L, Kinchen S, et al. 2004. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2003. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 53(SS02); 1-96. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5302a1.htm.
2 -Breiding, M.J., Chen J., & Black, M.C. (2014). Intimate Partner Violence in the United States — 2010. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention