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Teen Relationship Abuse

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

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Teen dating violence is just as serious as adult domestic violence. And it's common. About 2 in 10 teen girls say they have been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. About 1 in 10 teen boys reports abuse in dating relationships.

Teen dating abuse is a pattern of abusive behavior used to control another person. It can be:

Who's at risk?

Like adult domestic violence, teen relationship abuse affects all types of teens, regardless of how much money your parents make, what your grades are, how you look or dress, your religion, or your race. Teen relationship abuse occurs in straight, gay, and lesbian relationships.

Relationship abuse is not just dangerous for you physically and emotionally. It can also put you at risk for other health problems, such as:

Teens in abusive relationships are also more likely to take sexual risks, do poorly in school, and use drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Girls are at higher risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Is it abuse?

Abusive relationships can have good times and bad times. Part of what makes dating violence so confusing is that there is loved mixed with the abuse. This can make it hard to tell if you are really being abused. But you deserve to be treated in a loving, respectful way by your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Does your boyfriend or girlfriend:

Do you:

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you might be in an abusive relationship. There are people who can help you. You're not alone. Talk to your parents or another adult family member, a school counselor, a teacher, or someone else you trust. Call a help center or hotline to get help.

Hotlines for help

These national hotlines can help you find resources in your area.

How parents can help

Teens may not have the experience or maturity to know if their relationships are abusive. A teen may think of dating violence as only physical violence—pinching, slapping, hitting, or shoving. Teens may not realize that any relationship involving physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse, or the threat of violence is an unhealthy relationship.

For example, a teen may think his or her partner cares when he or she calls, texts, emails, or checks in all the time. But that kind of behavior is about controlling the relationship.

Talk with your teen about what makes a healthy relationship. Explain that a caring partner wouldn't do something that causes fear, lowers self-esteem, or causes injury. Let teens know that they deserve respect in all of their relationships. Think about values and messages that you want to pass on.

You might start by asking your teen:


Credits for Teen Relationship Abuse

Current as of: August 31, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine


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