Teens & Youth
Dating as a teenager can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very complicated. Relationships, whether they are between two adults or two teenagers, exist on a spectrum, from healthy to unhealthy to abusive. The most important thing to remember is that love should never hurt, either physically or emotionally, and that you have the right to feel safe and good about yourself.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teen dating violence can start with teasing and name calling. And while these behaviors are often thought to be a "normal" part of a relationship, they aren’t and can lead to serious violence like physical and sexual assault.
If you believe you are a victim of an abusive relationship, we encourage you to talk to a trusted adult in your life. You can also connect with an advocate at Safe Connect by visiting CTSafeConnect.org or texting/calling (888) 774-2900.
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Toolkit
Nationwide, 1 in 3 teens reports being physically, sexually or emotionally hurt by their partner. According to the CT Department of Public Health, 17% of CT high school students report being emotionally abused by a dating partner and 8% report being physically abused by a dating partner (2011 School Health Survey Youth Risk Behavior Report). Early exposure to abusive or violent relationships increases the likelihood of those types of relationships being repeated later in life.
Primary prevention is one of CCADV’s priority goals and working to end teen dating violence and early experiences with unhealthy relationships is a key piece to that goal. To facilitate this effort, we have created a Teen Dating Violence Awareness Toolkit. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and a great time to use the toolkit to engage teens and adolescents, but many of the tools included can be used throughout the year to educate about healthy relationships and how to get help. The toolkit includes useful statistics, warning signs, resources for help, and activities such as sample tweets and selfie signs to get people engaged through social media.
Healthy Relationships & Warning Signs of Abuse
What does a healthy relationship look like?
Respect, equality and communication are key in healthy relationships. A healthy relationship means:
- You respect each other
- You are honest with each other
- You can communicate your feelings without worrying that you will anger the other person
- Both of your opinions matter and you respect each other’s boundaries
- You both understand that you each need time to hang out alone with friends or family
- You’re supportive of each other, even when you disagree
What does an unhealthy relationship look like?
The fact is that abuse and violence are never acceptable. Unfortunately, they still happen and here are some of the warning signs you can look out for:
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend calls you names and puts you down either when you’re alone or in front of others
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend gets extremely jealous when you’re talking with friends, even when it is completely innocent
- You apologize and make excuses for your boyfriend/girlfriend's behavior
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend keeps checking up on you and demands to know who you’ve been with, what you were doing, and why
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend checks your phone or email without permission
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend loses his/her temper or breaks things when angry
- You constantly worry about making your boyfriend/girlfriend angry
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend doesn’t want you to have any personal time to spend alone with friends and family
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend pressures you to have sex
Below are some additional signs to look for if you think your friend is in an abusive relationship. Learn more about how you can help a friend.
- Your friend unexpectedly and abruptly cancels plans with you for no good reason
- Your friend begins to experience a dramatic change in weight, appearance or grades
- Your friend has unexplained injuries, especially persistent ones that don't seem to go away
Wondering where your relationship stands? Take the quiz!
Now that you know what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like, do you want to know what kind of relationship you are in? Loveisrespect.org is a national partnership between Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline (866-331-9474), two organizations working to engage, educate and empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships.
Loveisrespect.org offers the following helpful quizzes and resources:
LGBTQI Teens & Youth
Remember, abuse can occur in both opposite-sex (straight) and same-sex (gay) relationships. While the abuse and signs are similar, we have some additional information specific to LGBTQI individuals. You can also find additional information about healthy LGBTQ relationships at loveisrespect.org.
You can also reach out to True Colors - a Connecticut-based nonprofit that works with other social service agencies, schools, organizations, and within communities to ensure that the needs of sexual or gender minority youth are both recognized and competently met. True Colors offers youth programming and mentoring.
A Note on TECHNOLOGY
Many teenagers report that their partners have used the internet or a tech device to spread rumors that cause them emotional harm. Sometimes a conversation through text that starts out harmless or even funny can turn hurtful, obnoxious, or eventually even abusive faster than you think.
So how do you know what is ok and what is not? And how can you help protect yourself? Visit MTV’s A Thin Line campaign to learn more. Check out the Get the Facts section to learn more about different types of abuse via technology, and the Take Control section to learn how to protect yourself and support others.