First Time User? Enroll now.
COVID-19: Vaccine information, testing, treatment, and additional resources
Home > Health Library > Teen Relationship Abuse
If you want to save this information but don't think it is safe to take it home, see if a trusted friend can keep it for you. Plan ahead. Know who you can call for help, and memorize the phone number. Be careful online too. Your online activity may be seen by others. Do not use your personal computer or device to read about this topic. Use a safe computer such as one at work, a friend's house, or a library.
Teen dating abuse is a pattern of abusive behavior used to control another person. It can be:
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.
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 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).
Teens who abuse their girlfriends or boyfriends do the same things as adults who abuse their partners. Teen dating violence is just as serious as adult domestic violence. And it's common.
In adult domestic violence, women are more often the victim. In teen relationship abuse, both boys and girls report abuse about equally. But boys tend to start the violence more often and use greater force.footnote 1
Abusive relationships have good times and bad times. Part of what makes dating violence so confusing is that there is love mixed with the abuse. This can make it hard to tell if you're really being abused.
You deserve to be treated in a loving, respectful way at all times by your boyfriend or girlfriend.
Ask yourself these questions. Does your boyfriend or girlfriend:
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might be in an abusive relationship. Talk to your parents or another adult family member, a school counselor, or teacher. Or you can get help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or go to www.thehotline.org or the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474 (www.loveisrespect.org).
Remember, you're not alone. Talking really does help. And without help, the violence will only get worse.
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:
If you are concerned about your teen, there are people who can help you. You're not alone. Consider talking to a school counselor or your family doctor. Call a help center or hotline to get help. National hotlines can help you find resources in your area:
Roberts TA, et al. (2003). Longitudinal effect of intimate partner abuse on high-risk behavior among adolescents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 157(9): 875–881.
Current as of:
June 16, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineH. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
Current as of: June 16, 2021
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
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.