Teen Dating Violence
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the Choose Respect initiative as a national effort to help youth form healthy relationships and to prevent dating abuse before it starts. The initiative targets 11 – 14-year-olds and the adults in their lives with the message that dating abuse is not just unacceptable, but also preventable by choosing respect.
The Choose Respect initiative is a much needed effort to reach today's youth with messages about healthy relationships. However, its messages are not just relevant to dating – the skills that youth use to develop healthy, respectful relationships are the same skills that they can use in other aspects of life. Consequently, the initiative offers the opportunity for communities nationwide to increase the number of youth who are prepared to be healthy, safe, and independent members of society.
Some of the following signs are just a part of being a teen. But, when these changes happen suddenly, or without an explanation, they could signal abuse.
Warning signs of an abusive relationship:
- Bruises, scratches, or other injuries
- Failing grades
- Dropping out of school activities
- Avoiding friends and social events
- Changes in clothes or make–up
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Avoiding eye contact
- Crying spells or hysteria fits
- Constant thoughts about the dating partner
- Alcohol or drug use
- Anxiety and depression
- Sudden changes in mood or personality
- Fearfulness around the dating partner or when their name is mentioned
Warning signs of an abusive person:
- Wants to get serious in the relationship quickly
- Won't take no for an answer
- Is jealous and possessive
- Makes all the decisions
- Dismisses other people's opinions and feelings
- Wants to control a person's friends and activities
- Puts constant pressure on someone
- Demands to know where someone is all the time
- Uses guilt trips - "If you really loved me, you would..."
- Feels they deserve unconditional love and support
- Has a history of bad relationships
- Blames the person for their feelings and actions - "You asked for it" or "You made me mad"
- Apologizes for violent behavior and promises not to do it again