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Teen Dating Violence



Click HEREUnhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Dating violence often starts with teasing and name calling. These behaviors are often thought to be a “normal” part of a relationship. But these behaviors can set the stage for more serious violence like physical assault and rape.

Relationship violence often starts as emotional or verbal abuse and can quickly escalate into physical or sexual violence. And although many teens know at least one student who has been a victim of relationship violence, most parents either don't know it exists or don't know it is an issue.

Teen dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship, as well as stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and may occur between a current or former dating partner. The abuse can begin at a very young age, as young as 11 or 12 years old. Friends of the couple are usually aware of the abuse and may be drawn into the situation.

Dating or relationship violence can occur at school---in the hall, in the classroom, in the parking lot, on the bus, at after-school activities, at a student’s workplace, at a school dance or at a student’s home. In teenage dating relationships, the abuse is often public with peers witnessing the abuse; however, the abuse can also occur in private.

Signs that you are in an abusive teen dating relationship
Is one partner afraid of the other? Afraid to break up with the other?
Does one partner call the other names; make the other feel stupid, or tell the other that they cannot do anything right?
Is one partner extremely jealous?
Does one partner tell the other where they can and cannot go or who they can and cannot be with or talk to?
Does one partner tell the other that no one else would ever go out with them?
Is one partner being cut off from their friends and family by the other partner?
Does one partner feel if they say no to sexual activities they will be in trouble?
Does one partner feel pushed or forced into sexual activity?
Does one partner say it's the other's fault or that the other caused them to be abusive?
Does one partner shove, grab, hit, pinch, hold down or kick the other?
Is one partner really nice sometimes and really mean at other times (almost like they have two personalities)?
Does one partner make frequent promises to change or say that they will never hurt the other again? Or do they say that the other is "making too big a deal" out of it?

If you can answer “yes” to any of the above questions, then your partner is being abusive towards you. You may want to look at your relationship more closely and find out more about teen dating violence.

What you can do

Remember that anyone can be a victim. If you suspect dating violence in our own relationship or in a friend’s relationship get help from someone you trust. Do something before the relationship gets worse or the violence increases. By reaching out, you may save someone’s life, including your own.

Dating Rights

Ask yourself if you are violating someone else's rights - or if someone is violating yours. Are you respecting your rights and the rights of your date?

I have the right:

  1. To be treated with respect always.
  2. To my own body, thoughts, opinions, and property.
  3. To choose and keep my friends.
  4. To change my mind - at any time.
  5. To not be abused - physically, emotionally or sexually.
  6. To leave a relationship.
  7. To say no.
  8. To be treated as an equal.
  9. To disagree.
  10. To live without fear and confusion from my boyfriend's or girlfriend's anger.

I have the responsibility:

  1. To not threaten to harm myself or another.
  2. To encourage my girlfriend or boyfriend to pursue their dreams.
  3. To support my girlfriend or boyfriend emotionally.
  4. To communicate, not manipulate.
  5. To not humiliate or demean my girlfriend or boyfriend.
  6. To refuse to abuse - physically, emotionally or sexually.
  7. To take care of myself.
  8. To allow my boyfriend or girlfriend to maintain their individuality.
  9. To respect myself and my girlfriend or boyfriend.
  10. To be honest with each other.

Why Does Dating Violence Happen?

Teens receive messages about how to behave in relationships from peers, adults in their lives, and the media. All too often these examples suggest violence in a relationship is ok. Violence is never acceptable. But there are reasons why it happens.

Violence is related to certain risk factors. Risks of having unhealthy relationships increase for teens who:

  • Believe it is okay to use threats or violence to get their way or to express frustration or anger.
  • Use alcohol or drugs.
  • Can't manage anger or frustration.
  • Hang out with violent peers.
  • Have multiple sexual partners.
  • Have a friend involved in dating violence.
  • Are depressed or anxious.
  • Learning difficulties and other problems at school.
  • Don't have parental supervision and support.
  • Witness violence at home or in the community.
  • Have a history of aggressive behavior or bullying.

What Are The Consequences of Dating Violence?

Abuse in a dating relationship can be confusing and frightening at any age. But for teenagers, who are just beginning to date and develop romantic relationships, this abuse is especially difficult. When the abuse is physical or sexual, it can be easy to identify. Emotional abuse is much harder to recognize, but no less damaging.

As teens develop emotionally, they are heavily influenced by their relationship experiences. Healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive or violent relationships can cause short term and long term negative effects. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, and report binge drinking, suicide attempts, and physical fighting. Victims may also carry the patterns of violence into future relationships.

Dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies.

  • Read up on healthy relationships and how to recognize and stop relationship violence.
  • Talk to other teens and adults in your school and community about what you have learned.
  • Start a peer education group to discuss issues related to teen dating violence.
  • Encourage your school and community organizations to start a program to help abusers break their pattern of abusive behavior. Teaching people how to be in a relationship without violence can help break the cycle.
  • Ask your school if some of your classes like health, social studies, contemporary living, or other classes can incorporate discussions of teen dating violence into the class curriculum.
Click HERE

Teen Power and Control Wheel

Produced and distributed by:
National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence

 Click HERE to download

Acquaintance Rape

If a person you know forces or intimidates you into sex it is called acquaintance rape. The terms “acquaintance rape” and “date rape” are often used interchangeably. This is often confusing and inaccurate. The term “date rape” implies a more romantic relationship. This term is most accurately used to describe an assault by a boyfriend or date. A great many acquaintance rapes do not occur in a dating context. An acquaintance is anyone you have some degree of familiarity with, i.e. classmate, co-worker, neighbor, friend, roommate’s brother, etc.

Most “date rapes” begin as a plan to have sex and evolve into aggression when the victim does not go along with it. The major determining factors of “date rape” appear to be centered around; entitlement, aggression, and miscommunication.


  • Group or double date. Make a plan for prevention with your friends.
  • Pay your own way or alternate paying.
  • Don’t laugh or go along with inappropriate comments. Be aware that non-verbal actions may send mixed messages.
  • Plan dates around activities.
  • Take turns suggesting where you go, what you do.
  • Drive your own car or meet them there.
  • Avoid alcohol or drugs. Stay sober.
  • Get expectations straight from the beginning.
  • Be assertive about your opinions and wishes. Get angry when someone does something to you that you do not want.
  • It is OK to be rude to someone who is sexually pressuring you, even if it hurts their feelings.
  • Pay attention to behavior that does not seem right. Trust your intuition.
    • Someone sitting or standing too close who enjoys your discomfort.
    • Power stares—looking through you or down at you.
    • Someone who blocks your way.
    • Someone speaking in a way or acting as if he knows you more intimately than he does.
    • Someone who grabs or pushes you to get his way.
    • Someone who does not listen or disregards what you are saying (like “NO”).
  • Be aware that nothing you do is a guarantee against sexual assault.

What Males Must Learn

Since 97% of reported sexual assaults are committed by males, it is imperative
that males take responsibility for educating themselves about date rape.

DO NOT force or pressure a female to have sex.
DO stay sober.
DO NOT buy the myth that if a girl is drunk, she “deserves” to be raped.
DO remember that “no” means “no”.
DO NOT join in if a friend or group of friends invites you to participate in a sexual encounter. Instead of contributing to the attack, try to stop the assault or contact the police.
DO NOT confuse “scoring” with having a sexual encounter.
DO NOT assume that you know what a female wants.

It is NOT alright to force intercourse if:

He spent a lot of money on her.
He is so turned on he thinks he cannot stop.
She has had sexual intercourse with other guys.
She is stoned or drunk.
She says she will have sex with him but changes her mind.
She lets him touch her above the waist.
They have dated a long time.
She has had sex with him before.
She led him on.
She is wearing suggestive clothing.
She is hitchhiking.
She is out by herself late at night.
She is living with him but they are not married.
She is married to him.
She is married to him but they are currently separated.

What Parents Should Know

Red flags that may show your teen may be experiencing abuse in her/his relationship:

  • Giving up interests such as friends, sports, hobbies, etc.
  • Change in appearance or behavior.
  • Spending all their time with their partner.
  • Apologizing for partner’s behavior.
  • He/She constantly checks up on your teen.
  • Unexplained injuries.
  • Name-calling, demeaning comments from partner.
  • Her/his boyfriend/girlfriend hurting self, others or pets.
  • Technology can also be used by individuals to control their boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s actions by cell phones and spreading rumors thru social networking websites. It is important to be aware of your teen’s possible changes in use of computers, cell phones, etc

I think my daughter’s/son's boyfriend/girlfriend is abusing her/him. What can I do?

  • Talk to your teen about dating and healthy relationships. Creating this open dialogue will help with future discussions.
  • Avoid being judgmental. Your teen may not share any information with you if they feel like they have done something wrong.
  • Just listen – Your teen may need to “vent” about what happened.
  • Don’t try to provide explanations or solutions to what has happened, this may appear judgmental to your teen.
  • Validate that you are sorry the abuse happened and it is not his/her fault.
  • Be supportive of your teen reaching out to others like coaches, teachers, friends, etc. These people can be helpful.

You and your teen may also want to explore what services and options are available. Contact Mitchell Area Safehouse 605-996-4440 or toll free 1-888-996-8909. If a criminal act has happened, contact your local police department.

Shelter: (605) 996-2765  •  Hotline: (605) 996-4440  •  Visitation Center: 605-996-8880

Mitchell Area Safehouse and Family Visitation Center
1809 North Wisconsin, Mitchell, South Dakota 57301