Domestic abuse, or intimate partner violence, doesn’t just happen to adults. In reality, many people who become abusive to their partners start the unhealthy behavior as teens. Teen Dating Violence is physical, sexual, or emotional abuse within a teenaged relationship. According to Break the Silence, one in three high school students will experience some form of dating violence in their relationships. Teen dating violence is an escalating issue that is becoming increasingly important to identify early on.
Teen girls who have been physically and/or sexually abused by a partner are six times more likely to become unintentionally pregnant, or contract an STI, than young girls who have not been abused. This pathway toward teen parenting with an abusive partner can lead directly to being with that partner for life, turning into adult intimate partner violence.
How can a teen tell if their relationship is headed in the wrong direction? Certain ‘red flag’ behaviors may be able to help you or someone you know avoid a potentially abusive pairing. For example, is your partner…
…making important decisions for the both of you, without asking your opinion?
…making you feel like you have to be especially careful what you say to them, because you’re worried that you may make him/her very angry?
…texting you constantly, or is unable or unwilling to give you personal space?
…pressuring you into doing sexual acts/favors for them?
…blaming you for their bad behaviors?
If some of the above are true, there may be a risk of an unhealthy relationship that may be or may become abusive. Remember that trusted adults, teachers, and organizations are available to help people in abusive relationships. Visit http://www.loveisrespect.org/ for help and information.