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Teen Dating Violence

What is dating abuse?

Dating abuse (also known as dating violence, intimate partner violence, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of abusive behaviors -- usually a series of abusive behaviors over time -- used to exert power and control over a dating partner.


Every relationship is different, but the things that unhealthy and abusive relationships have in common are issues of power and control. Violent words and actions are tools an abusive partner uses to gain and maintain power and control over their partner.

Any young person can experience dating abuse or unhealthy relationship behaviors, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic standing, ethnicity, religion, or culture. It does not discriminate and can happen to anyone in any relationship, whether casual or serious.


Dating abuse is more common than you think. Some warning signs can help you identify if your relationship is unhealthy or abusive, including the examples below. Remember, the abuse is never your fault, and asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. 

Warning Signs

Being able to tell the difference between healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships can be more difficult than you think. No two relationships are the same, so what’s unhealthy in one relationship may be abusive in another. Although there are many signs to pay attention to in a relationship, look for these common warning signs of dating abuse:

  • Checking cell phones, emails, or social networks without permission

  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity

  • Constant belittling or put-downs

  • Explosive temper

  • Isolation from family and friends

  • Making false accusations

  • Constant mood swings towards you

  • Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way

  • Possessiveness

  • Telling someone what they can and cannot do

  • Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex

What Does Dating Abuse Look Like?

Teens and young adults experience the same types of abuse as adults, including:

  • Physical Abuse: Any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking, or using a weapon.

  • Verbal or Emotional Abuse: Non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or stalking.

  • Sexual Abuse: Any action that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion, or restricting access to birth control.

  • Digital Abuse: Use of technologies and/or social media networking to intimidate, harass or threaten a current or ex-dating partner, such as demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyberbullying, non-consensual sexting, excessive or threatening texts, or stalking on social media.

  • Stalking: Being repeatedly watched, followed, monitored, or harassed. Stalking can occur online or in-person and may or may not include giving unwanted gifts.

  • Financial Abuse: Exerting power and control over a partner through their finances, including taking or withholding money from a partner or prohibiting a partner from earning or spending their money.


Love Is

The National Teen Dating Abuse 

Helpline is anonymous, confidential, and available 24 hours a day.

Call 1-866-331-9474 (1-866-331-8453 TTY)

Chat online anytime or text "loveis" to 77057

That's Not

Designed to address problems between teens who are dating or hooking up-such as constant and controlling texting, pressuring for nude pictures, and breaking into someone's email or social networking page.

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

National Sexual Assault Hotline


Live chat is available on their website

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