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Teen Dating Violence and Abuse

Learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships.


Watch this video from VOICES:  When Relationships Hurt featuring author and advocate Bill Mitchell who shares his own family’s devastating story of the loss of his daughter to dating violence, the red flags he wished he would have recognized as warning sings and how his family is coping through this tragedy.

Nearly 21% of female high school students and 14% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.

Source: NCADV, 2015

What is it? Dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. Dating violence can take place in person or electronically, such as repeated texting or posting pictures of a person without consent. More about dating violence and abuse »

Who does it happen to? Dating violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation or background. Drugs and alcohol do not excuse abuse or violence. Teen and young adult dating violence is a problem of epidemic proportions.

  • Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence.
  • One in four teens in a relationship say they have been called names, harassed or put down by their partner through cell phones and texting.
  • Young people, 12 to 19 years old, experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, and youth, 18 to 19 years old, experience the highest rates of stalking.

In College …

  • Nearly half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.
  • College students may not be equipped to deal with dating abuse – 57% say it is difficult to identify and 58% say they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it.
  • One in three (36%) dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, online access, email or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.
  • One in six (16%) college women has been sexually abused in a dating relationship.

What are the signs of teen dating violence and abuse? Because relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to unhealthy, it can be hard to tell when a behavior crosses the line from healthy to unhealthy or even abusive. Awareness and open communication are essential to combat this violence.

Teen Dating Violence How CHANA Can Help

Begin to heal and rebuild lives.

CHANA's trauma-informed counselors help clients understand the  dynamics of dating violence and discuss the vast array of feelings one may experience. Getting support through counseling allows victims to sit with mental health professionals who can listen and offer helpful tools and skills on ways to manage the difficult emotions, heal from trauma, connect to community resources and move forward with life.

Individual counseling can help young people address issues that are hard to face alone. It can increase positive feelings, such as compassion and self-esteem. Therapy helps one develop skills for handling difficult situations, making healthy decisions, and reaching goals. Many people find they enjoy the therapeutic journey of becoming more self-aware. Some people even go to ongoing therapy for self-growth.

Gain sense of empowerment and hope.

In a safe nurturing environment, support groups allow participants to learn about the dynamics of teen dating violence and abuse, talk through their experiences, and hear stories from others who have experienced abuse in their relationships. Group counseling also provides victims with ample support, not only from peers (other victims) but also from the mental health professional leading the group.

Groups are led by trauma-informed professionals. CHANA provides a range of support groups  throughout the year. Please call CHANA at 410-234-0030 for a current schedule of groups.

Justice and healing for survivors.

Through our legal advocacy program, CHANA seeks justice and healing for survivors of abuse. CHANA's legal advocates and attorney provide information and support to those who have experienced abuse, enabling victims to make  informed decisions while navigating the court system. CHANA strives to develop and maintain strong relationships with government agencies, police, prosecutors and child protective services to maximize advocacy on the clients' behalf.

  • Legal services: Discuss the legal process; provide information to help make informed decisions; and pursue civil and criminal legal remedies.
  • Referrals: Make referrals to volunteer attorneys or private attorneys when necessary
  • Court accompaniment: Accompany clients to court proceedings; provide legal guidance; offer support throughout the entire legal process and advocate for the client.
  • Jewish legal process: Work closely with Beit Din, the Jewish arbitration system.

Stop teen dating violence before it begins.

Questions about relationships, sexual intimacy, consent, bystander intervention and supporting survivors can be overwhelming. CHANA's prevention education efforts help young people and their parents by teaching about healthy relationships. These workshops are designed for middle school, high school and college, each uniquely tailored for age-appropriateness, as well as cultural sensitivities. The goal is to start a meaningful conversation on healthy relationships. Through interactive learning experiences, young people learn how to recognize and respond to abuse. They learn about consent, bystander intervention, and dating abuse. Topics include healthy relationships, dating violence, warning signs of abuse, bullying, preparing students for college dating, social media, consent, and how to find help. All programs are free.

  • Healthy Relationships: Interactive sessions for middle school, high school and college-age students that provide tailored presentations and discussions about how to recognize and respond to abuse, dating violence, healthy relationships, bullying and social media. They learn about consent, bystander intervention, and dating abuse. Topics include healthy relationships, dating violence, warning signs of abuse, bullying, college dating, social media, consent, and how to find help.
  • Community Workshops: Through periodic community events focused on healthy relationships and timely topics, we help equip adults– as parents, coaches, teachers, relatives and neighbors – with the right information and strategies to help the teens in their lives thrive in safe and healthy romantic relationships.

More Prevention Education »

As a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, CHANA understands the needs of the Jewish community across all denominations.

10 Warning Signs

Some signs of teen violence and abuse are more obvious than others. Here are questions to ask yourself or ask someone you care about:

Does someone ever:

  1. Hurt you by constantly putting you down?
  2. Tell you how to dress or act all the time?
  3. Pressure you to do things that make you uncomfortable?
  4. Call/email/text/message you every few minutes to “check up”?
  5. Check your computer or cell phone?
  6. Prevent you from connecting with family and friends?
  7. Show extreme jealousy?
  8. Have an explosive temper?
  9. Threaten others or self if you don’t do what he or she wants?
  10. Have mood swings?

Abuse is Never Okay

Relationships that are not healthy are based on power and control, not equality and respect. Abuse is unacceptable. Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship.

Everybody deserves to be in a healthy relationship free from violence. Drawing the line between unhealthy and abusive can be hard. If you think your relationship is going in the wrong direction, check out the 10 Warning Signs. Remember, abusive behaviors are not “just normal” in a relationship. Even though teen and 20-something relationships may be different from adult ones, young people do experience the same types of physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse that adults do. Take violence in your relationship seriously.

We are dedicated to helping people who have experienced dating violence and abuse achieve safety and healing. CHANA provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals and families, while educating communities as part of the movement to end teen dating violence and abuse.

At CHANA, we stand with you.

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