The Different Types of Teen Dating Violence

Odoey Koffie 
PADV Teen Violence Intern

As we kick off Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, it is important for everyone to know about and be able to identify the types of abuse that take place in dating relationships. All of these types of abuse are various methods to gain power and control over a partner so that abusers can feel their partner belongs to and is controlled by them.

Sexual abuse is defined as any sexual activity between two people without willing, active and unimpaired consent by both parties. In a dating relationship, the victim knows the individual abusing them which can intensify the effects of the abuse; including fear, shock, and anxiety.

Emotional or verbal abuse is an attempt to ridicule, minimize and shame your partner.  This can include name-calling, mocking on social media and in front of others, constantly criticizing all aspects of the person’s behavior, telling the victim their behavior is causing all these problems and making fun of the way the person dresses and acts.  Being subjected to this shaming and ridiculing behavior can take a serious toll on the victim’s self-esteem and lead them to blame themselves for the abuse they are experiencing.  This self-doubt and personal blame intensify the difficulty of leaving the relationship.

Stalking is being repeatedly watched, followed, monitored or harassed. This could occur with either a current or past partner.  It is appropriate to be scared or alarmed by this type of behavior. Anyone who experiences stalking should report it to someone they trust and begin immediately to create a safety plan to address the stalking.

Physical abuse is any intentional use of physical touch to cause fear, injury, or assert control. In many cases, the violence begins with what others may deem to be minor such as pushing or shaking.  It can quickly escalate to something life-threatening. Types of physical violence include hitting, slapping, choking, banging ahead into the floor or a wall, shoving someone to the ground, using physical objects or weapons as part of the abuse to cause more physical damage.  It is important to realize that the abuser is the only one responsible for their violent behavior and the recipient of the violence is never to blame.  While all of us exhibit behavior that at some time has been found frustrating or difficult by someone else,  we all have to make a personal decision about how we will respond to that behavior.  We always have the choice of walking away, leaving the situation, ending the relationship.  The use of physical violence is a choice that only the perpetrator can make; no one can force someone else to be violent.

Financial abuse is someone exerting power and control through finances. In a dating relationship, this can be manifested by constantly asking the person for money, asking your partner to pay for all expenses, criticizing and making fun of how your partner spends their money, getting information about their credit cards and using this information for personal purchases and to create a negative credit history for the partner.

Digital abuse is the use of technology to bully, stalk, threaten, or intimidate. There are many different examples of digital abuse like: sexting, cyberbullying, checking messages, and tracking the partner’s use of cell phone and computer usage.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing any of these behaviors in a dating relationship, please remember this is abuse, these behaviors are not present in healthy dating relationships, no one deserves this, and there is help for you. Whether it’s going to someone you trust like a close friend/family member or calling our hotline, 404-873-1766, make sure you reach out to get the help you need to move past the abuse and into affirming and positive relationships.

If you would like a teen advocate to speak to a group you’re connected with about teen dating violence please email [email protected].