RCASA’s Friday Facts: Teen Dating Violence

In Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on February 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

 “Domestic Violence happens because we let it and it will stop when we say it must“. The Family Violence Prevention Fund 

Teen dating violence is a pattern of controlling behavior that someone uses against a girlfriend or a boyfriend. It’s not just hitting or other physical violence: it includes put-downs, intimidation, jealousy, and other kinds of behavior. 

What kinds of behavior?
Abusive behavior comes in several forms. None of these behaviors show respect or love, and none are present in healthy relationships.

  •  Physical
    Kicking, punching, shoving, slapping, pushing, scratching, choking, disrespectful touching, use of physical strength to intimidate/threaten, and any other act which assaults your body.
  •  Sexual
    Calling you sexual names, criticizing your body parts, wanting sex after hitting, acting indifferent during sex,
    fear of saying “no”, threatening to get a new girlfriend, painful or unsafe sex, forced or pressured sexual acts, including rape.
  •  Emotional & Verbal
    Intimidating you, scaring or threatening you. Calling you names, yelling, putting you down, and other assaults against your self-esteem. Being blamed for your partners’ own faults.
  •  Psychological
    Acting in ways that leave you feeling as if you are “going crazy”.

 No relationship is perfect, and everyone gets angry or jealous sometimes. What makes it abuse?

In a healthy relationship, both people have an equal say in how they spend their time together. Each person’s thoughts and feelings are important and valued. They respect and like each other for who they are, the way they are. Relationship Abuse, or Dating Violence, occurs when a person feels that they need to maintain Power and Control over their partner. The relationship is no longer equal, and behavior is used to keep the other person “in check”.

Facts and Figures

  • Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner – a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth.
  • One in five tweens – age 11 to 14 – say their friends are victims of dating violence and nearly half who are in relationships know friends who are verbally abused. Two in five of the youngest tweens, ages 11 and 12, report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships.
  • Teen victims of physical dating violence are more likely than their non-abused peers to smoke, use drugs, engage in unhealthy diet behaviors (taking diet pills or laxatives and vomiting to lose weight), engage in risky sexual behaviors, and attempt or consider suicide.
  • The majority of dating violence occurs when the relationship is serious or steady. In several studies, young men became more violent as they began to see themselves as part of a couple.
  •  Alcohol is another exacerbating factor in dating violence. As the consumption of alcohol by either the victim or perpetrator increases, the rate of serious injuries associated with dating violence also increases.
  •  A healthy relationship is an ongoing process involving commitment, flexibility, respect and honesty.
  •  Males commit nearly 95% of all assaults in relationships. Men with a family history of seeing or experiencing abuse are more likely to inflict abuse, violence and sexual aggression.
  •  Teens can choose better relationships when they learn to identify early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand they have choices and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with respect.
  •  There are several groups of teens even more at risk for dating violence, these are pregnant teens, teens of color and gay and lesbian teens.

Dating Bill of Rights

I have a right to: ask for a date, refuse a date, suggest activities, refuse any activities – even if my date is excited about them, have my own feelings and be able to express them, say “I think you are wrong and your actions are inappropriate, tell someone not to interrupt me, have my limits and values respected, tell my partner when I need affection, refuse affection, be heard, refuse to lend money, refuse sex any time for any reason, and have friends and space aside from my partner.

 I have the responsibility to: determine my limits and values, respect the limits of others, communicate clearly and honestly, not violate the limits of others, ask for help when I need it, be considerate, check my actions and decisions to determine whether they are good or bad for me, and set high goals for myself.


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