Christopher Giangarlo
Intern

What to know about Teen Dating Violence

Teen dating violence affects one-third of all youth in America, including physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking.

The Centers for Disease Control defines teen dating violence behaviors as the following:

  • Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
  • Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act and/or sexual touching when the partner does not or cannot consent. It also includes non-physical sexual behaviors like posting or sharing sexual picture of a partner without their consent or sexting someone without their consent.
  • Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over a partner.
  • Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.

The impact of dating violence can follow someone throughout their life. These experiences can result in depression, self-harm, use of alcohol or drugs, and behaviors like bullying, lying, and hitting. 

Understanding and addressing teen dating violence is critical to protecting yourself from physical and emotional harm. You can learn more about the red flags in relationships to help protect yourself and support your friends who may be in a difficult situation. Learning more about this issue can help empower you to follow your instincts in a relationship.

If you see red flags (learn more here) or realize that you or someone you know is in an unsafe relationship, the first step to getting out is developing a safety plan. A safety plan should include a code to let friends and family know that you are in danger and a list of emergency contacts. It’s important to stay aware of your location and be prepared to leave any situation where you feel uncomfortable or threatened. 

Your phone can become an essential tool in helping you understand resources available to you or escaping a dangerous situation. If you need help, you can contact the Love is Respect hotline by calling 1-866-331-9474, chatting with someone at loveisrespect.org, or texting LOVEIS to 22522. You can also reach out to our counselors at upstreetpgh.org to learn more about resources available to you and get help creating a safety plan.

Being aware of the aspects of dating violence and its long-term impact is an essential step for you to recognize and be prepared to protect yourself and support your friends in building healthy, safe relationships.