Teen Dating Abuse
Do you sometimes wonder if the things happening in your relationship are normal? Does the way your boyfriend treats you bother you? If you are not sure if you are in an unhealthy relationship, take a step back and ask yourself:
Does your boyfriend...
- pressure you to make the relationship very serious or have sex early in the relationship?
- act jealous or possessive?
- try to control where you go, what you wear or what you do?
- text or instant message you constantly?
- refuse to consider your point of view or desires?
- keep you from talking to or spending time with close friends or family?
- drink too much or use drugs and then blame the alcohol and drugs for his behaviour?
- threaten to hurt you or himself if you break up with him?
Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship. Do you know if your relationship is healthy? Choose how often your partner does the following to find out. Make sure to write down your responses. At the end, you’ll find out how to score your answers.
The Person I'm With (Often, Sometimes or Never)
Answer below: Often: -5, Sometimes: -3, Never: 5
- Is very supportive of things that I do and encourages me to try new things.
- Likes to listen when I have something on my mind.
- Talks to me when they’re unhappy with something in the relationship.
- Is willing to compromise.
- Understands that we have separate interests and can spend time apart.
Answer below: Often: 5, Sometimes: 1, Never: 0
- Is mean or rude to my friends.
- Criticizes or distracts me when I’m doing things that don’t involve them.
- Gets extremely jealous or possessive.
- Accuses me of flirting or cheating when I’m not.
- Constantly checks up on me or makes me check in.
Answer below: Often: 10, Sometimes: 5, Never: 0
- Breaks or throws things when we fight.
- Threatens to destroy my things.
- Tries to control what I do, who I see, what I wear, how I look or who I talk to.
- Makes me feel nervous or like I’m "walking on eggshells.”
- Blames me for problems, puts me down, calls me names or criticizes me.
Answer below: Often: 50, Sometimes: 25, Never: 0
- Makes me feel like no one else would want me.
- Threatens to hurt themselves, me, my friends, pets or family.
- Grabs, pushes, shoves, chokes, punches, slaps, holds me down, throws things or hurts me in some way.
- Yells, screams or humiliates me in front of other people.
- Pressures, guilts or forces me into having sex or going farther than I want to.
Add up your answers.
Now that you're finished and have your score, the next step is to find out what it means. Simply take your total score and see which of the categories below apply to you.
Score: 0 or Less Points Point
You got a negative score or a zero? Don’t worry -- it's a good thing! It sounds like your relationship is on a pretty healthy track. Maintaining healthy relationships takes some work -- keep it up! Remember that while you may have a healthy relationship, it's possible that a friend of yours does not. If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, find out how you can help them.
Score: 1-5 Points
If you scored one to five points, you might be noticing a couple of things in your relationship that are unhealthy, but it doesn't necessarily mean they are warning signs. It's still a good idea to keep an eye out and make sure there isn't an unhealthy pattern developing.
The best thing to do is to talk to your partner and let them know what you like and don't like. Encourage them to do the same. Remember, communication is always important when building a healthy relationship. It's also good to be informed so you can recognize the different types of abuse.
Still have questions? Contact Gillian’s Place for more information.
Score: 6-10 Points
If you scored six to ten points, it sounds like you may be seeing some warning signs and your relationship may be unhealthy. Don’t ignore these red flags. Something that starts small can grow much worse over time. No relationship is perfect -- it takes work! But in a healthy relationship you won't find abusive behaviors.
If you think your relationship may not be as healthy as you deserve, talk with a trained counsellor get more information.
Score: 11-50 Points
If you scored more than 50 points, it is important to consider taking steps to ensure your safety. A trained counsellor is available to work with you to create a safety plan that is tailored to your situation, and focused on keeping you safe whether you choose to remain in the relationship or not.
You don't have to deal with this alone. We can help. Talk with someone to learn about your different options. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship.
Facts about Dating Violence
- 1 in 4 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner
- One-third of teen girls say they have been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner
- In an abusive relationship, one person typically uses Power and Control to gain the upper hand physically, emotionally and/or sexually over their partner
- One-quarter of teens who have been in serious relationships say their boyfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family
- Nearly 1 in 4 girls who have been in a relationship reported going further sexually than they wanted as a result of pressure
- Learning healthy relationship skills greatly reduces your risk of violence with other teens
Watch for Friends who are being Abused
In some cases, teens feel more comfortable confiding in a friend than they would with a parent or other adult, however, it's not always easy for them to come to you. If you suspect that they are in an abusive relationship, here are some things to consider:
Does your friend...
- constantly cancel plans for reasons that don't sound true?
- always worry about making their boyfriend angry?
- give up on things that are important?
- show signs of physical abuse like bruises or cuts?
- have a boyfriend that wants them to be available all of the time?
- become isolated from friends or family?
If you think a friend might be in an abusive relationship, try taking an indirect approach to help them open up. Here are some suggestions:
- "You don't seem as happy as usual - are you okay?"
- "Is there anything you want to talk about?"
If you think your friend is in serious danger, tell an adult you trust immediately. Do not try to handle the situation on your own.
You and your friends should adopt some safe dating practices such as:
- Consider double-dating the first few times you go out with a new person.
- Before leaving on a date, know the exact plans for the evening and make sure a parent or friend knows these plans and what time to expect you home. Let your date know that you are expected to call or tell that person when you get in.
- Be aware of your decreased ability to react under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Do not leave anywhere with someone you do not know. If you do, make sure you tell another person you are leaving and with whom. Ask a friend to call and make sure you arrived home safely
- Assert yourself when neccessary. Be firm and straightforward in your relationships.
- Trust your instincts. If something makes you uncomfortable, try to be calm and think of a way to remove yourself from the situation.
Even if you are not currently in an unhealthy relationship, it is a good idea to think ahead about ways to be safe if you are in a dangerous or potentially dangerous relationship. Here are some things to consider when designing your safety plan:
- What adults can you tell about the violence and abuse?
- What people at school can you tell in order to be safe - teachers, principal, counsellors, security?
- Consider changing your school locker or lock
- Use a buddy system for going to school, classes and after-school activities
- What friends can you tell to help you remain safe?
- If stranded, who could you call for a ride home?
- Keep a journal describing the abuse
- Get rid of or change the number to any beepers, pagers or cell phones the abuser gave you
- Keep spare change, calling cards, phone number of a local shelter and a number of someone who could help you at all times
- Where could you go quickly to get away from an abusive person?
- What other things can you do?
Teen Dating Bill of Rights
I have the right:
To always be treated with respect - In a respectful relationship, you should be treated as an equal.
To be in a healthy relationship - A heathly relationship is not controlling, manipulative or jealous. A healthy relationship involves honesty, trust and communication.
To not be hurt physically or emotionally - You should feel safe in your relationship at all times.
Abuse is never deserved and is never your fault - Conflicts should be resolved in a peaceful and rational way.
To refuse sex or affection at any time - A healthy relationship involves making consenual sexual decisions.
You have the right to not have sex - Even if you have had sex before, you have the right to refuse sex for any reason.
To have friends and activities apart from my boyfriend or girlfriend - Spending time by yourself, with male or female friends or with family is normal and healthy.
To end a relationship - You should not be harassed, threatened or made to feel guilty for ending an unhealthy relationship. You have the right to end a relationship for any reason you choose.
I pledge to:
always treat my boyfriend or girlfriend with respect.
never hurt my boyfriend or girlfriend physically, verbally or emotionally.
respect my girlfriend's or boyfriend's decisions concerning sex and affection.
not be controlling or manipulative in my relationship.
accept responsibility for myself and my actions.
Digital dating abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online.
In a healthy relationship, all communication is respectful whether in person, online or by phone. It is never ok for someone to do or say anything that makes you feel bad, lowers your self-esteem or manipulates you. You may be experiencing digital abuse if your partner:
- Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites.
- Sends you negative, insulting or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs or other messages online.
- Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare and others to keep constant tabs on you.
- Puts you down in their status updates.
- Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return.
- Pressures you to send explicit video.
- Steals or insists to be given your passwords.
- Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished.
- Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts and outgoing calls.
You never deserve to be mistreated, online or off. If you're experiencing digital dating abuse, we encourage you to talk to someone at Gillian’s Place 905-684-8331
- Your partner should respect your relationship boundaries.
- It is ok to turn off your phone. You have the right to be alone and spend time with friends and family without your partner getting angry.
- You do not have to text any pictures or statements that you are uncomfortable sending, especially nude or partially nude photos, known as "sexting."
- You lose control of any electronic message once your partner receives it. They may forward it, so don’t send anything you fear could be seen by others.
- You do not have to share your passwords with anyone.
- Know your privacy settings. Social networks such as Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. These are often customizable and are found in the privacy section of the site. Remember, registering for some applications (apps) require you to change your privacy settings.
- Be mindful when using check-ins on Social Media pages like Facebook and Twitter. Letting an abusive partner know where you are could be dangerous. Also, always ask your friends if it’s ok for you to check them in. You never know if they are trying to keep their location secret.
Teen dating abuse is not an argument every once in a while, or a bad mood after a bad day.
IT IS: a pattern of controlling and abusive behaviour
IT CAN: be verbal and emotional abuse
IT CAN: cause injury or even death
If your boyfriend has said or done something that seemed like a red flag, it probably was. It could become, or may already be abusive. Always remember: you have every right to say no! No one has the right to treat you with anything other than respect. The Teen Dating Bill of Rights will give you a guideline to follow for a healthy relationship.
If you are still unsure if your relationship is abusive and would like advice, you can contact Gillian's Place 24/7 for support. We are here for you.
If you are still unsure if your relationship is abusive and would like advice, you can contact Gillian's Place 24/7 for support.
- Teen Dating Abuse - A Guide for Parents & Caregivers