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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Do You Know the Signs of Abuse?
4th Feb

2020

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Do You Know the Signs of Abuse?

Abusive relationships tend to melt over from one generation to the next. Children who witness domestic violence often externalize or internalize that behavior in adolescence. And because young people are burdened with limited experience, they often can’t tell if their relationship is unhealthy. 

In recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, we wanted to provide some important facts about teen dating, signs your teen is part of an abusive relationship, and help for young adults who find themselves in a violent dating situation.

 

Romantic Abuse Among Teens 

Abusive behavior in romantic relationships starts at an early age, most often beginning between 6th and 12th grade. 

Physical abuse has been reported by as much as ten percent of high school students (12 percent of girls and 7 percent of boys) who have been hurt by a dating partner in the last year. 

Sexual violence is even more common among young dating partners, with 11 percent of high school students (16 percent of girls and 5 percent of boys) reporting an incident by a dating partner within the past year.

 

Signs of Dating Violence and Abuse

Many signs of dating violence are so tiny, it’s easy to brush off as something innocent. Here are some of the signs a teen may be a victim of dating abuse:

  • Becomes isolated from friends, and sometimes family
  • Gives up important hobbies or things they enjoy
  • Changes in appearance, weight, grades, or behavior (these are signs of depression, which often indicates abuse)
  • Gives explanations for injuries that don’t make sense or have unexplainable injuries
  • Afraid of partner or fearful of making partner angry
  • Preoccupied with partner and making them happy
  • Apologetic for partner’s negative behavior
  • Becomes defensive about the relationship (like “don’t worry” or “mind your own business”)

As important as it is to recognize abusive behavior in young adults, it can be just as vital to identify the signs of an abusive partner:

  • Loses temper, breaks or hits things
  • Monitors partner’s activities online, through phone or social media habits
  • Argues or fights with other people
  • Exhibits extreme jealousy and insecurity
  • Demands knowledge of partner’s whereabouts and what they’re doing
  • Calls partner names or puts down their partner

 

Mandi’s Story

At age 18, Coburn Place Program Participant “Mandi” found herself in an abusive relationship. Though Mandi and her daughter had just moved into a new apartment and she had a great job, she felt she was missing that special someone to share her life with. Her relationship with “Drew” started through social media… and moved quickly. Drew messaged Mandi constantly and, at first, she felt flattered. But it wasn’t long before those warm fuzzy feelings turned into fear. Drew was obsessive about Mandi’s whereabouts and who she was with, which lead to following her location through his phone and limiting who she could befriend in real life and online.

“Looking back… it wasn’t romantic in any way. When I think back on these first days together, my stomach turns, because like many young girls, I had no idea what a ‘red flag’ even meant. And this man was showing every single one of them,” Mandi shared.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Do You Know the Signs of Abuse?

We Can Help

At Coburn Place, we do so much more than provide safe housing. We offer a safe haven, a place where you don’t have to look over your shoulder, a place where you can feel secure from unsafe relationships and people.

If you or a loved one is experiencing dating abuse, please call us and speak to a staff member for support. We can offer appropriate resources for teens in abusive dating relationships, and our Domestic Violence Support Groups are available for those on the waitlist and in the community. 

How To Get Help

You’ve seen the signs. What can you do to get help before anything else happens?

Young adults in violent dating relationships could be looking for the support of friends when facing this kind of danger or intimidation. If you or someone you know is experiencing teen dating abuse, here are some ways to get help safely:

  • Discuss the situation with a trusted adult.
  • If the trusted adult minimizes the behavior, talk about the situation with another trusted adult.
  • Talk directly to the teen you are concerned about to gauge willingness to get help.
  • If you suspect sexual abuse or assault is occurring, report concerns to the local child protective services agency or local law enforcement (you can report anonymously).
  • If you or a friend is in immediate danger, call 911.

For additional support, contact the following hotlines:

  • Consult the National Dating Abuse Helpline at (866) 331-9474 (calls are anonymous and available 24 hours) or text “loveis” to 22522.
  • Visit www.loveisrespect.org for resources, including an interactive guide to safety planning for high school and college students.
  • To access additional resources for teens, please visit www.breakthecycle.org or www.thatsnotcool.com.
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