Relationships play a huge part in our daily lives, and people describe relationships in many different ways. Maybe you and your friends call it "dating," "going out," "hooking up," or "seeing each other"? Regardless of how you describe it, Catalyst can give you tools and support to help you recognize what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy, because everyone deserves to be treated with equality and respect.
Teen Dating Abuse can be defined as: A pattern of abusive behaviors that are used to gain power and control over a current or former dating partner. The abusive partner may use a combination of behaviors, such as verbal abuse and emotional abuse, or physical and sexual abuse. Verbal and emotional abuse can happen in person, online, or through text messages. Verbal and emotional abuse can be much harder to recognize than physical or sexual assault, but they are no less damaging. In fact, abusive relationships often start as emotionally or verbally abusive and can quickly escalate into physical or sexual violence.
- Are you feeling unsafe, scared, or worried about your own relationship? Someone else's?
- Does your partner use jealousy to keep you from hanging out with your friends or family?
- Does your partner expect you to share text messages or passwords with them, even if you aren't comfortable with it?
- Do you feel pressured to do things sexually that you aren't ready to do?
- Does your partner threaten to "out" your sexual orientation or gender identity to others?
- Does your partner call you names, criticize you, or make you feel bad about yourself?
You do not deserve to feel disrespected or unsafe in your relationships. If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship. Catalyst is here to listen and support you. You can call our confidential 24-hour Hotline at 1.800.895.8476.
Addressing teen dating violence and building healthy relationships takes work, and education is the first step. Download our Teen Dating Abuse booklet: "Jealousy Ain't Love" to learn more about the dynamics of abuse in teen relationships, and ways to build healthy relationships.
If you have a friend who is in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, but aren't sure how to talk to them, check out our "What do I say…" handout for some tips. Remember that your safety and the safety of your friend or loved one is of the highest importance. We encourage you to talk to a trusted adult if you have safety concerns
Did You know?
Teens have access to restraining orders if they feel unsafe in their relationships, even if they go to school with their abusive partner. If you are age 13 or older, you have the right to file a restraining order without parental consent. You can call or visit Catalyst for more information, and for help with the process. We can also help advocate with your school, if necessary.
Catalyst can work with you to create a safety plan at school, home, digitally, and more. Safety plans are tailored to your life and needs, to help you stay as safe as possible. You do not have to break up with your partner to create a safety plan, and we will never pressure you to do something you are not ready to do. To see an example safety plan, click here.
Sometimes it can be easy to frame intimate partner violence as an "adult" problem. In reality, teens and young adults are at the highest risk for experiencing abuse in their relationships. Studies show that 1/3 of teen relationships are abusive, and that women between the ages 16-24 are at the highest risk for experiencing abuse in an intimate relationship. Teen dating abuse can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical ability.
Despite these statistics, 81% of parents report that they don't believe teen dating violence is an issue or that they don't know if it's an issue. By educating yourself about healthy relationships and warning signs of teen dating abuse, you can provide potentially life-saving support to a teenager in need. Although it can be difficult, it is vitally important to talk to teens about relationships. It can be as simple as asking them what they are looking for in a relationship, telling them that they deserve to be treated with respect, or reminding them that you are there to listen if they ever need to talk. Catalyst can provide a variety of tools for starting these conversations. You can also download the "Jealousy Ain't Love" booklet, and look through it on your own and/or with your teen(s). If you are concerned about a teen, Catalyst is always available for additional support at 1.800.895.8476.
Online Resources for Teens and Concerned Adults