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Teen Dating Violence is a serious problem affecting youth in every community accross the nation. Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year. One in three teens in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, and/or verbal abuse from a dating partner. One in ten high school students has been hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.

Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence...almost triple the national average. Typically the violence starts between ages 12 and 18 and the severity of the violence is often greater when abuse was established in adolescence. It is thought that 72% of eighth graders claim to be "dating."

Violent relationships put victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behaviors and further domestic violence in the future. When teens become sexually active, they are six times more likely to become pregnant or carry an STD. Half of young people who have been victims of sexual and physical violence attempt suicide.

There are still eight states where teen dating violence is not recognized or defined as domestic violence, and it is almost impossible to apply for restraining orders or orders of protection. Currently only one juvenile court in the country focuses exclusively on teen dating violence. There is a definite lack of awareness, especially because only 33% of teens who were in violent relationships ever told anyone, and 81% of parents believe it is not an issue or admit that they don't know if it is an issue when it comes to their child. A teen's confusion about the law and their desire for confidentiality are the two main reasons that teens don't seek help for violence in their relationships.

Are you in a teen violence situation? Here are some warning signs: 

Is your partner

  1. Checking your phone or email without permission

  2. Constantly putting you down

  3. Extremely jealous or insecure

  4. Displaying an explosive temper

  5. Isolating you from family and friends

  6. Making false accusations

  7. Having mood swings

  8. Physically hurting you in any way

  9. Acting very possessive

  10. Telling you what to do

Because relationships exist on a spectrum it can be hard to tell whether behavior crosses the line. Dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to gain power and control over a partner. That does not mean that the first time is not abuse; the behaviors just get worse over time.

There are many forms of abuse, including the following:

  1. Stalking -- you are being stalked when a person continuously watches you, follows, or harasses you, making you feel unsafe or afraid.

  2. Financial Abuse -- this can be very subtle but can include trying to gain control of your bank account, telling you what you can and cannot buy, or giving you an allowance.

  3. Physical Abuse -- any intentional unwanted contact with your body or something close to your body including hitting, pushing, slapping, holding you with force, pulling your hair, throwing things at you, grabbing your face to make you listen, grabbing your clothing, or using a weapon to scare you.

  4. Sexual Abuse -- is an act that pressures or coerces you into having unwanted sexual relations with someone. Even them refusing to use protection, or limiting your access to your birth control constitutes sexual abuse. It is any act that limits a persons ability to control their own sexual activity.

  5. Digital Abuse -- this is a form of verbal and emotional battery including but not limited to cyberstalking, sexting, text harassment, cyber bullying, or any use of technology to stalk or intimidate their partner. Pressuring you to make a sexually explicit video, or explicit photos, demanding your passwords, and checking up on you via Facebook, Twitter etc.

    For more information about Teen Dating Violence and where to get help, visit the links below:

    Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence


    Don't forget to wear a purple ribbon in support of February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.