If you are in a dating relationship that feels threatening, uncomfortable, tense, or even frightening, trust your feelings. Reach out to a trusted adult or call the 24-hour, toll-free, all-language New York City Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-621-HOPE (4673) or the multi-lingual Youthline at 800-246-4646 to speak to a trained advocate. Victims of abuse who have been sexually assaulted should also call the Rape/Sexual Assault/Incest Hotline to speak with a trained advocate at 212-227-3000.
Understanding domestic violence for teenagers
The signs and symptoms of abuse within teenage relationships are similar to those of other forms of domestic violence. They may include physical violence, sexual assault, and emotional and/or psychological abuse. Many acts of abuse begin in early dating relationships. Date and acquaintance rape may happen at the beginning of a dating relationship before there has been any physical intimacy.
Teenage victims of domestic violence face unique challenges:
Teenagers experience specific developmental milestones as they journey through adolescence. Relationship abuse can have a serious negative impact on a teen's emotional development.
|Tasks of Adolescence||Impact of Abusive Relationship|
|Accept body image||Abuser picks on body size/shape or tells victim s/he is ugly or fat. Victim may be beaten, disfigured, or raped.|
|Develop a personal value system||Teen victim is told what to think, read, and study. Victim may identify so strongly with the abuser that s/he is unable to develop his/her own values. Victim may feel it is unsafe to disagree.|
|Prepare for a productive role in society||Teen victim may be prevented from pursuing interests outside the relationship. Victim may be afraid to excel, to apply for college, or to call attention to themselves.|
|Achieve independence from parents||Teen victim may be prevented from pursuing interests outside the relationship. Victim may be afraid to excel, to apply for college, or to call attention to themselves.|
|Develop an adult identity||The teen's identity becomes enmeshed with the abuser and s/he becomes consumed with pleasing the abuser. Coping with fear and abuse uses all the victim’s energy and stunts social development.|
To exert power and control, the abuser may:
- Manipulate or make threats to have sex or rape the victim.
- Threaten to expose the victim's sexual activity to others students.
- Humiliate the victim in front of peers at school or after school.
- Destroy the victim’s homework.
- Limit or control who the victim sees.
- Decide what school activities the victim may participate in.
What is New York City doing to address teen relationship abuse?
New York City Healthy Relationship Training Academy
The Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence (OCDV) and the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) have teamed up to educate young people on dating violence in New York City. The project established the NYC Healthy Relationship Training Academy, to teach young people and service providers about the dynamics of abusive relationships and the characteristics of healthy relationships.
2013 Teen Dating Violence Fact Sheet
23 Warning Signs of an Abusive Partner
Workshop Request Form
Staff Training Request Form
Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP)
Since 1999, the Human Resources Administration's RAPP program has helped teens attending public high schools develop healthier relationships. RAPP Social workers (MSW) use many different methods to combat relationship abuse, including: prevention classes, intervention counseling, staff development and training, and community outreach.
To learn more, click here.
How can I tell if my friend is in an abusive relationship?
If your friend is in an abusive relationship, your friend might:
Wear clothing to cover bruises – long sleeves or turtlenecks on warm days;
Spend excessive time answering cell phone calls or pages from the partner;
Lose confidence in themselves and begin to have difficulty making decisions;
Stop spending time with close friends and family;
Begin to receive failing grades or stop participating in school activities;
Start using alcohol or drugs.
What should I do if someone I know is being abused?
Call the 24-hour, toll-free, all-language New York City Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-621-HOPE (4673) or Youthline at 800-246-4646 to talk to a trained advocate. Turn to another trusted individual such as a teacher, coach, aunt or uncle or school social worker. In case of emergency, call the police at 911. Victims of sexual assault should call the Rape and Sexual Assault Hotline at 212-227-3000 to speak with a specially trained counselor.
Can’t jealousy and possessiveness be a sign of love?
Jealousy and possessiveness are early warning signs of abuse. They often mean that the person sees their intimate partner as a possession, not as an equal. In a healthy, loving relationship, people trust and support one another and respect each other’s independence.
Will my partner stop being abusive once we get married or have a baby?
Marriage does not end the battering found in dating relationships. In fact, the abuser's possessiveness, suspiciousness and violence tend to increase after the couple is married. Likewise, having a baby together will not stop the abuse. Many pregnant women have reported that the abuse became more severe after they became pregnant.
As a teen in a dating relationship, can I get an Order of Protection?
Individuals who are abused by a person they are dating and with whom they do not have a child in common are not eligible for a Family Court Order of Protection. However, the victim may seek an Order of Protection in Criminal Court if the abuser has been arrested. Victims of physical and sexual abuse should call 911 or visit the nearest police precinct to file a complaint.
As a teen in a dating relationship, am I eligible for shelter?
Youth 18 and over may be eligible for Domestic Violence Emergency Shelter, which can be accessed through the New York City Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-621-HOPE (4673). Teens under 18 that are in need of a place to stay may go to Covenant House, a homeless shelter for teens. Covenant House is not confidentially located.
Visit the Covenant House Web site for more information
Human Resources Administration, Office of Domestic Violence
New York City Department of Youth and Community Development
Love is Not Abuse
The City of New York Resource Directory of Domestic Violence Services