According to a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health, one in five female public high school students in Massachusetts has experienced physical or sexual violence from their dating partners. You should be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of teen dating violence and what to do if you or someone you love is in a violent relationship.

What is a Healthy Relationship?

A healthy relationship is made up of mutual respect, equality, trust, communication and freedom. In a healthy non-abusive relationship, partners don't hurt each other.

What is an Unhealthy Relationship?

An unhealthy relationship is characterized by disrespect, fear, jealousy and passiveness.

What is Dating Violence?

  1. Teen dating violence is abusive and violent behavior in dating relationships
  2. It reflects the perpetrator's desire to control and dominate the victim
  3. It happens in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships
  4. It covers a wide range of behavior that includes verbal and emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and physical violence

Types of Abuse

Controlling Behavior Includes

  1. Not letting you hang out with your friends
  2. Calling or paging you frequently to find out where you are, who you're with, and what you're doing
  3. Telling you what to wear
  4. Having to be with you all the time

Verbal and Emotional Abuse Include

  1. Calling you names
  2. Jealousy
  3. Belittling you (cutting you down)
  4. Threatening to hurt you, someone in your family, or themselves if you don't do what they want

Physical Abuse Includes

  1. Shoving
  2. Hitting, punching, slapping
  3. Pinching
  4. Kicking
  5. Hair pulling
  6. Strangling

Sexual Abuse Includes

  1. Unwanted touching and kissing
  2. Forcing you to have sex
  3. Not letting you use birth control
  4. Forcing you to do other sexual things

Recognizing the Signs

Does your partner

  1. Give you orders and make all the decisions?
  2. Try to humiliate you?
  3. Only want "alone" time with you and not want you to be with your friends and family?
  4. Accuse you of having no sense of humor?
  5. Force you to have sex when you don't want to?
  6. Use alcohol or drugs and pressure you to do the same?
  7. Like to wrestle with you "playfully" and hurt you?
  8. Harass or threaten a former boyfriend or girlfriend?
  9. Threaten to commit suicide if you leave the relationship?

If your dating relationship feels in any way uncomfortable, awkward, tense or even frightening, trust your feelings and get out of it. It could become or may already be abusive.

Take Steps To Keep Yourself Safe

  1. Don't keep your worries to yourself. If you think you are in an abusive relationship get some help immediately.
  2. Talk to someone you trust-a parent, teacher, guidance counselor, doctor or friend.
  3. Create a safety plan. Plan in advance what to do and where to go, who to call, or how to escape if you are in danger of violence.
  4. Memorize the important phone numbers of the people you will contact or the places you will go in an emergency.
  5. When you go out tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back.
  6. Keep spare change, calling cards or a cell phone handy for immediate access to communication.
  7. If you don't want the abuser to contact you, change your beeper, pager or cell phone number and ask your friends not to share it with anyone.
  8. Computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear. If you are afraid your internet use or computer use might be monitored, use a safer computer.
  9. Consider getting a restraining order.

(For information on obtaining a restraining order, visit the section on Abuse Prevention Orders in Domestic Violence)