“You shouldn’t feel sorry if you tell someone to stop.” Julia P. (age 12)

Teen dating violence is often hidden because teenagers
:
  • are inexperienced with relationships
  • pressured by peers to act violently
  • want independence from parents
  • have “romantic” views of love
Common clues that a teenager may be experiencing dating violence:
  • Physical signs of injury
  • Truancy, dropping out of school
  • Failing grades
  • Indecision
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Use of drugs/alcohol
  • Pregnancy
  • Emotional outburst
  • Isolation
Warning signs that your date may become abusive:
  • Extreme Jealousy
  • Controlling
  • Quickly attaches to you
  • Unpredictable mood swings
  • Alcohol/drug use
  • Explosive Anger
  • Isolates you from friends & family
  • Uses force during an argument
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Believes in rigid sex roles
  • Blames others for his problems or feelings
  • Cruel to animals or children
  • Verbally Abusive (yelling, cursing, name calling)
  • Abused former partners
  • Threatens violence
People in destructive relationships often:
  • Ignore what they are feeling, hearing or seeing
  • Make excuses “He had a bad day” or “He can’t help it, he was sick”
  • Minimize their own feelings “Its really not that bad” or “He would never really hurt me”
  • Blame themselves “If I had just not argued with him, or done a better job/been a better person, he would no have acted this way”
  • Try to take care of the person who hurts them
Dating violence or abuse can occur in any intimate relationship from pre-teens through adult. However, studies have shown that ages 13-18 are at the highest risk as they are beginning to explore dating and intimacy. They are also the least likely group to disclose warning signs or abuse to a friend, family member, or trusted adult, and even less likely to report dating violence to the police.
(Source: Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

How you can help:
Be a safe person for her to talk to, without judging her. Let her know that you care, and thinks she is a good person- no matter what happened. She also needs people she can trust to give her a reality check that her partner’s behavior is abusive & that threats can often turn into action. Have her keep a journal documenting the abuse. Support her in seeking professional help so she can explore why she doesn’t value herself and insist on being treated with care, love and respect.

Books for pre-teens and teens:
www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/promos/greatbooks/girls/booklist.html
www.randomhouse.com/rhpg/promos/greatbooks/girls/empowering.html

Online Resources
:
www.breakthecycle.org –to end dating violence
www.childtrends.org
National Domestic Violence (Anonymous hotline) 800-799-SAFE (24 hrs a day)
National Youth Development Information Center www.youthdevelopment.org
Award Winning Empowerment for Women