Healthy relationships are defined by enjoyment, effective communication, support, and respect. Teens in relationships should feel comfortable, secure, and trusting of one another. Healthy relationships are not just the absence of violence, but the presence of these positive qualities and others. Although conflict is part of every relationship, conflict should never lead to violence.
Dating violence is the most common form of violence among youth. 1 in 3 teens in the U.S. is physically, sexually, emotionally, or verbally abused by a dating partner. Dating violence can be physical, sexual, and psychological. Psychological abuse is often difficult to detect, but includes controlling, jealous behaviors on part of the abuser, such as constantly checking the victim’s texts and emails, and keeping the victim from hanging out with friends or seeing family.
Youth are just beginning to date and navigate relationships, and they should be encouraged to ask direct questions about what constitutes a healthy relationship. Teens may feel more comfortable discussing relationships with youthworkers than with their parents or teachers at school. However, many teens may not be direct if they are experiencing violence within a relationship; they may exhibit signs or behaviors that are questionable and less clear.
Only 1 in 3 teens in an abusive relationship ever tells anyone about the abuse. The longer a teen is in an unhealthy relationship, the less likely they are to report abuse. As adults working with youth, it is necessary to intervene as soon as you sense that something is wrong.
Relationship abuse also compromises the safety and sexual health of youth. Youth who experience dating violence are less likely to use condoms, in fear that their partner will react violently.
Although teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ) experience dating violence at the same rates as their peers in opposite-sex relationships, they may face more barriers in seeking help dealing with relationship abuse.
Teens also experience bullying from their peers. 4 in 5 youth who identify as LGBTQ face peer bullying and harassment at school. Sexual orientation and gender expression are among the most common reasons LGBTQ students experience assaults and harassment at school, and school administrators are widely unsupportive of these youth. Youth who experience victimization based on sexual orientation and gender expression have lower self-esteem and higher incidences of depression than other youth. Youth organizations may be the sole source of support for some LGBTQ youth.
Download the BE SAFE Relationship Abuse Fact Sheet (PDF) to learn more.
SafeLink, Massachusetts Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline 1-877-785-2020
Statewide emergency hotline to help survivors of dating and domestic violence find a shelter, create a safety plan, get legal advice, and provide support.
LGBT Partner Abuse Hotlines
Casa Myrna Vazquez
Boston-based, multicultural organization dedicated to ending domestic violence in the lives of women and children through advocacy, prevention and intervention programs.
Asian Task Force
Boston organization that works to eliminate family violence and to strengthen Asian families and communities.
GLTBQ Domestic Violence Center: Gay Men’s Domestic Violence Project provides crisis intervention, support and resources for victims and survivors of domestic abuse. Services include 24 hour hotline, legal advocacy and court accompaniment, safe home, financial assistance, and support services.
The Network/La Red: Survivor-led Organizing to End Partner Abuse in the LGBTQ community. Dirigida por sobrevivientes. Movilizando para acabar con el abuso de pareja.
Break the Cycle - Resources for youth who want to help end dating violence.
Love is Respect - videos, blog posts, quizzes, resources, and information about teen dating violence for teens. Also host to a text message hotline, just text "loveis" to 77054 for immediate response.
That's Not Cool - Interactive site with videos and electronic "call out" cards for teens to send to friends and people they are dating.
It's Your Sex Life - Section with information about teens and relationships including quizzes and articles about healthy relationships.
100 Conversations - A guide for parents about how to start conversations with teens about respect, healthy relationships, and safety.
Peers Against ViolencE (PAVE) - A list of warning signs created by teens for teens to recognize if their friends are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.