Dating violence is a serious and common type of abuse that affects people of all backgrounds. As teens begin to enter into relationships, it is more important than ever to talk to them about abuse.
What is Dating Abuse?
Dating violence is part of a pattern of behavior called dating abuse. It is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between current or former dating partner. Dating abuse is used to gain and maintain power and control over a dating partner, and it can come in many forms:
- Physical Abuse (hitting, pushing, hair pulling, grabbing your clothing)
- Emotional/Verbal Abuse (name-calling, putting you down, embarrassing you in public, telling you what to do or wear, threatening to hurt you or someone you love)
- Sexual Abuse (unwanted kissing or touching, unwanted sexual activity, refusing to use condoms, sexual contact with someone too drunk to consent, pressuring someone into having sex)
- Financial Abuse (controlling your access to money, controlling what you can buy, interfering with your ability to work, getting you fired by harassing you, giving you presents or money and expecting favors in return)
- Digital Abuse (telling you who you can or can’t be friends with online, sending you threatening messages or tweets, using websites to keep constant tabs on you, pressuring you to send explicit photos or texts)
How Common is Dating Abuse?
Very common. One in three high school students experience physical or sexual violence at the hands of a dating partner. Young women ages 18-24 experience intimate partner violence at a rate almost twice the national average. For more statistics, check out this fact sheet from Break the Cycle.
What Can I Do?
Abuse is preventable. Addressing early signs of abuse can prevent future violence. Encouraging healthy relationships based on equality and respect is key.
You deserve respect in your relationships. You have a right to privacy, independence, safety, and control over your body. Some red flags of dating abuse include:
- Wants to move too quickly into the relationship.
- Does not honor your boundaries.
- Is excessively jealous and accuses you of cheating.
- Wants to know where you are all of the time and frequently calls, emails or texts you throughout the day.
- Criticizes you or puts you down; most commonly tells you that you are “crazy,” “stupid” and/or “fat,” or that no one would ever want or love you.
- Says one thing and does another.
- Takes no responsibility for their behavior and blames others.
- Insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family.
- Tells you to stop participating in things you enjoy.
If you are in an abusive relationship, help is available. Contact 1-888-411-1333 to speak with a trained advocate who can help. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 911.
If you think your teen is in an unhealthy relationship, there are steps you can take. As a parent, you are critical to helping your teen develop and maintain healthy relationships. You are also in a position to provide life-saving support if they are being abused.
Love Is Respect has great tips for parents: listen, support, accept, and focus on behaviors.
One of the most important steps to take is to start a conversation about healthy relationships. Talk early, talk often! Early conversations can promote healthy relationships and prevent abuse.
You play a crucial role in ending teen dating abuse. Louisiana law requires dating violence education be provided to staff and students of all public schools, grades 7-12. This statute also requires school districts to include in student codes of conduct the definition of dating violence, dating violence warning signs, and instructions for reporting or seeking help relative to dating violence.
The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence has resources available to assist school districts in implementation of this law. We encourage educators and administrators to reach out to their local domestic violence program for guidance and partnerships in implementing dating violence education.
View our full Dating Violence Memo for further information, including recommended dating violence prevention programs. Below are additional resources to help get you started:
- LA Dating Violence Education in Public Schools Statutory Requirements
- Sample Student Handbook Policy
- Break the Cycle Sample Policy
- CDC Understanding Teen Dating Violence Fact Sheet
- Futures Without Violence – School and District Policies To Increase Student Safety
- Legal Duty of Schools Memo- Break the Cycle
- Teen Power and Control Wheel