February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Sadly, relationship abuse is all too common even amongst our youth. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “1 in 3 U.S. teens will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from someone they’re in a relationship with before they become adults.” 

Teen dating violence can include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression, stalking, or any pattern of manipulative or intimidating behaviors used to exert power or control over a partner. Relationships exist on a spectrum, and sometimes it can be hard to tell when behavior turns from healthy to abusive or toxic. 

As with adult partner violence, many teens who experience dating violence do not tell anyone. It is important that parents, friends, and those close with a teen in a relationship pay attention to the red flags. Warning signs that a teen may be experiencing dating violence include:

  1. Their partner excessively checks their phone, email or messaging accounts, or social media accounts, with or without their permission. 
  2. Their partner puts them down by using insults, intimidation, or humiliation, especially in front of others. 
  3. They become isolated from their friends or family members. 
  4. Their partner is extremely jealous or insecure. 
  5. Explosive outbursts or mood swings.
  6. Possessiveness or controlling behavior.
  7. Any type of physical harm.
  8. Pressuring or forcing them to have sex. 

For parents, friends, family members, or others, it can be difficult to know what to do if you suspect that someone you care about is in an abusive relationship. Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website for some helpful tips on how to give support and help.  

Safety should always be the priority, so if you or anyone else are in immediate danger, always call 9-1-1. If you are a victim of dating or relationship violence, or you believe your child, friend, or someone you care about is, there are resources that can help. The Center for Abused Persons 24/7 Crisis Hotline can be reached at 301-645-3336. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7 by phone, text or chat. Visit their website for more information.