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Teen Relationship Abuse

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Topic Overview

Teen dating violence is just as serious as adult domestic violence. And it's common. About 2 in 10 teen girls say they have been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. About 1 in 10 teen boys reports abuse in dating relationships.1

Teen dating abuse is a pattern of abusive behavior used to control another person. It can be:

  • Any kind of physical violence or threat of physical violence to get control.
  • Emotional or mental abuse, such as playing mind games, making you feel crazy, constantly texting you, or constantly putting you down or criticizing you.
  • Sexual abuse, including making you do anything you don't want to do, refusing to have safer sex, or making you feel bad about yourself sexually.

Who's at risk?

Like adult domestic violence, teen relationship abuse affects all types of teens, regardless of how much money your parents make, what your grades are, how you look or dress, your religion, or your race. Teen relationship abuse occurs in straight, gay, and lesbian relationships.

Relationship abuse is not just dangerous for you physically and emotionally. It can also put you at risk for other health problems, such as:

Teens in abusive relationships are also more likely to take sexual risks, do poorly in school, and use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Girls are at higher risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Is it abuse?

Abusive relationships can have good times and bad times. Part of what makes dating violence so confusing is that there is loved mixed with the abuse. This can make it hard to tell if you are really being abused. But you deserve to be treated in a loving, respectful way by your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Does your boyfriend or girlfriend:

  • Act bossy and make all the decisions?
  • Put you down in front of friends?
  • Threaten to hurt or kill himself or herself?
  • Blame you for "making" him or her treat you badly?
  • Pressure you to have or force you to have unprotected sex?
  • Stalk you? This can include constantly texting or calling you to find out where you are and who you're with. You might think that's about caring, but it's really about controlling the relationship.

Do you:

  • Feel less confident about yourself when you're with him or her?
  • Feel scared or worried about doing or saying "the wrong thing"?
  • Find yourself changing your behavior out of fear or to avoid a fight?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you might be in an abusive relationship. There are people who can help you. You're not alone. Talk to your parents or another adult family member, a school counselor, a teacher, or someone else you trust. Call a help center or hotline to get help.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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