Teen dating violence


Teen dating violence

”You don’t own me…”

For one in three teenagers, their first love introduces physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

Partner -on-partner violence is more common in South Africa than in any other country in the world. Not surprisingly then, one-third of young girls experience abuse and violence in their first relationships as teens. Dating violence often occurs when one partner wants to exert power and control over the other, and both boys and girls fall victim to dating violence.

What is teen dating violence?

Teen dating violence is any controlling, abusive or aggressive behaviour that occurs in a romantic dating relationship. It can happen in straight or gay relationships. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse or a combination.

Fast facts on Teen Relationships

  • Research showed relationships usually begin at age 14 or younger.
  • A third of 11-12 year old’s said they have been in a relationship.
  • Sex is considered to be already part of a relationship for 11-14-year-old’s
  • 25% of girls revealed that they were pressured to perform sexual acts
  • 25% of girls reported being subjected to repeated verbal abuse.
  • Dating violence happens in about 30% of all relationships.
  • Young people ages 12 – 19 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault.
  • The ages of 16 -24 are the most susceptible to dating violence.
  • 90%  of the victims of violence in relationships are female. Women tend to believe the abuse is their fault, and they don’t deserve better.


Physical violence: While shoving and pushing can indicate, hitting is conclusive that your partner is abusive.

Symbolic violence: is the destruction of things that belong to you. If your partner throws a TV out of the window – the message is that he can throw you out the window too.

Fast-paced relationships: I, the pace is fast in a relationship. It indicates control. It is abusive to push someone into something they are not ready for.

Persistence: If he won’t take no for an answer, it’s not because he’s smitten. Anybody who hears the word no is trying to control you.

What are examples of Teen Dating Violence?

Examples of controlling behaviour:

• Calling you all the time
• Prescribing what you must wear, criticism, isolation
• Deciding who you may hang out with, jealousy
• Wanting to be with you all the time, quick involvement

Examples of verbal/emotional behaviour:

• Name-calling
• Belittling
• Criticizing
• Threatening

Examples of physical behaviour:

• Hitting
• Biting
• Pushing
• Kicking
• Strangling, cruelty to animals or children
• Pinching

Example of sexual behaviour:

• Force sexual acts
• Force having sex, playful use of force during sex
• Prevent using birth control
• Unwanted touching/kissing

Example of online behaviour:

• Posting embarrassing photos
• Posting threats

What are the effects on the victim?

Teen dating abuse can cause the victim to develop low self-esteem, depression, become suicidal, develop an addiction to drugs or alcohol, develop eating disorders or engage in dangerous sexual activities.

Get help

If You Are a Victim of Dating Violence, You Might.

  • I think it’s your fault.
  • Feel angry, sad, lonely, depressed, or confused.
  • Feel helpless to stop the abuse.
  • Feel threatened or humiliated.
  • Feel anxious.
  • Not know what might happen next.
  • Feel like you can’t talk to family and friends.
  • Be afraid of getting hurt more seriously.
  • Feel protective of your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Help Yourself

  • Think about ways you can be safer. It means thinking about what to do, where to go for help, and who to call ahead of time.
  • Where can you go for help?
  • Who can you call?
  • Who will help you?
  • How will you escape a violent situation?

How to stay safe:

• Have a safe-word of your choice on your phone that your friends or family know about – your code word for ‘I AM IN DANGER”.
• Always tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.
• Memorize significant phone numbers or assign them to speed dial.
• Always have a cell-phone with a full battery and money for transportation on you.
• If in doubt, go out in a group.

Reach out

If you think you are in an abusive relationship, get help immediately. Don’t keep your concerns to yourself.

Talk to someone you trust, like a parent, teacher, school principal, counsellor, or nurse.

If you choose to tell, you should know that some adults are mandated to report. It implies they are legally required to report neglect or abuse to someone else, such as the police or child protective services. You can ask people if they are mandated reporters and then decide what you want to do.



You can do a self-test quiz to check whether you are in a violent relationship:

Teen Dating Violence Quiz

Love Addiction Quiz



You can chat with a counsellor. Just click on LIVE CHAT.

The service is text-based, and you may remain anonymous.

More information:



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