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Teen Relationship Abuse Is Surprisingly Common

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Nearly 1 in 11 female and around 1 in 15 male high school students say they experienced dating violence in the past year.
  • Around 1 in 9 female students say they experienced sexual dating violence in the past year.
  • 1 in 36 male high school students said the same.
  • 26% of women and 15% of men who were victims of sexual or physical violence first experienced these things before they were 18.

Teen relationship abuse can take different forms, but because of how common it is, parents are encouraged to have a conversation with their children before the ages they might start dating—the recommendation is often to start talking to children around the age of 11 or 12 about healthy dating relationships.

Types of Relationship Abuse

There are different types of relationship abuse with varying signs and red flags. Not all types of teen dating abuse look exactly the same. Types of abuse in relationships can include:

  • Physical violence: This is what is most commonly associated with teen dating abuse and violence. Physical violence includes hurting another person or trying to hurt another person through physical force.
  • Sexual violence: This type of abuse occurs in relationships when a person tries to force their partner to engage in sexual activity or event without consent. This can include physical sex acts but also things like sexting, according to the CDC.
  • Psychological abuse: This can include both verbal and non-verbal communication that is meant as a way to exert control or harm someone mentally or emotionally.
  • Stalking: When a teen relationship involves stalking, it can include patterns of ongoing unwanted contact and attention, causing fear for safety.

Teen relationship abuse and dating violence can occur in personal but also by text or online.

Signs a Relationship Is Abusive

Some of the possible signs of teen dating abuse include:

  • Isolation from friends and family
  • A partner who makes the other person feel as if they are constantly at fault or to blame
  • Physical, mental, verbal, sexual, emotional or financial abuse
  • The other person controls wherever you go or what you do, or controls what you say or wear
  • Threats of any kind
  • The partner forces you to do things you don’t want to do
  • Ongoing verbal fights and arguments
  • Unexplained bruises
  • A teen who seems to be feeling excessive guilt or shame for no apparent reason
  • Secrecy
  • Avoidance of social or school activities

Getting Help for Abusive Relationships

For a teen who feels they may be experiencing an abusive relationship, there are some things to do. First, they should try to find someone they trust, whether that be a parent or someone else, and tell them. There are both people and organizations that can provide dating abuse help. It’s important to document the abuse and leave the relationship immediately.

Unfortunately, people in abusive relationships often feel ashamed or as if it’s their fault, and it’s not. Seek help immediately. People who are abused as young people in high school are more likely to be victims of abuse and violence later in life, and it’s essential to stop that cycle.

Teens who are in abusive relationships are also more likely to develop symptoms of depression and anxiety and engage in risky behaviors including the use of drugs and alcohol. If you would like to find substance abuse treatment for your teen, please contact Next Generation Village today to explore your options and discover the help you deserve.


Polis, Rachael Dr. “Adolescent relationship abuse: it’s more common than you think.” Philly Voice, August 21, 2019. Accessed September 23, 2019.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Teen Dating Violence.” Accessed September 23, 2019.

Lyness, D’Arcy, Ph.D. “Abusive Relationships.” TeensHealth. Accessed September 23, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options, and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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