Teen dating violence is an issue many may not be aware of. In fact:
- 1 in 3 teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships, including verbal and emotional abuse.
- Only 33% of teens who are in an abusive relationships ever tell anyone about it.
- More than 10% of Knox County Schools high school students report having been hit, slapped or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend.
The statistics are disturbing and show the importance of addressing this issue, not only with adults but with young people as well. An abusive relationship can have serious effects, putting those involved at a higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behaviors, depression, anxiety and suicide. Teen dating violence is more widespread than many adults realize and often goes unreported because teens are afraid or ashamed. Relationships that become abusive do so over time and often teens are not aware of how unhealthy a relationship has become until it escalates to some form of abuse.
Red flag behaviors that may indicate abuse include:
- Extreme jealousy and possessiveness (acting angry when you spend time with other friends or family)
- Controlling behavior (wanting you to answer all of his or her calls and texts immediately)
- Isolating and dominating behavior (wanting you to spend all of your time with him or her)
- Emotional and verbal abuse (putting you down and making you feel afraid to be yourself)
- Anger, threats and intimidation (extreme anger with threats of hurting you, someone you love, or him or herself)
- Destruction of Property (breaking your phone or other possessions that are meaningful to you)
- Physical abuse (hitting, grabbing, slapping, kicking, choking, punching, etc.)
Healthy relationships involve both partners having a voice and feeling that they can be themselves. Both should be able to explore interests with their partner, others and on their own. When conflict arises, it is important to disagree fairly. Both should feel respected as well as emotionally and physically safe.
If you think you or someone you care about is in an abusive relationship, please contact the Family Justice Center for support at 865-521-6336.