The Warning Signs Of Teen Dating Violence [Part 1].

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
Out of all the fears we have as parents, we rarely fear our children will end up the victim of violence, especially in their dating relationships. However, this is a reality. The following is a guest post by Allison Schultz, a therapist for a domestic violence agency in Oregon. Because of the nature of her job, and the confidentiality of individuals involved, she has requested that no contact information be publicized here.

I believe this is a must read for all parents. Part 2 will be posted later this week. Take some time to read this and then share with other parents!

Author’s Note: I recognize that both males and females can perpetrate abuse and both males and females can be victims/survivors of abuse. What we know about intimate partner violence is that in most cases a male is perpetrating abuse against a female.  For the sake of avoiding a mouthful of pronouns, I’m going to use “he” when referring to an abuser and “she” when referring to a survivor.

Adolescence is such a vulnerable developmental stage. Teens are constantly striving to make sense of who they are as an individual and in relationship to their peers. They’re gaining more freedom, but lack the ability to be completely independent. Their friends often become the center of their world, but the closeness of their family has the potential to be a huge protective factor in their lives.

According to a study by the US Department of Justice, girls and women between the ages of 16 and 24 are at a higher risk for intimate partner violence than any other age group. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that one out of five female high school students reported being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. And that’s just the number who reported. These are staggering statistics, which is why as an advocate and counselor for survivors of intimate partner violence, I believe prevention is such a key part of the work that we do. In addition to educating teens about the dynamics and warning signs of dating violence, we strive to educate parents, educators, and social service providers, as they can help lower a teen’s risk of being abused by being open to conversations about healthy relationships and watching for red flags.

Teen Dating Violence is defined as a pattern of behaviors, including physical, emotional, sexual, financial, spiritual, and social abuse, used to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner within the context of a dating relationship. When looking at any of these types of abuse individually, it’s important to remember that an abuser’s motive is to have power and control over his partner. Some of the things he does to achieve this may not seem suspicious individually, but look at each tactic in combination with the others with this motivation in mind

Physical abuse occurs when an abuser harms or attempts to harm his partner’s body or belongings or uses his body to control his partner.  This includes hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, pinching, and other similar actions or threats of these actions.  It’s not always that cut and dry though.  Maybe he ripped all of the pages out of her textbook which meant she had to pay for it.  Maybe he intimidates her by getting in her personal space during arguments or blocking the doorway so she can’t leave.  Perhaps he doesn’t punch her, but he does punch a locker.  What message is he trying to send with these actions?  The following are some warning signs of physical abuse:

  • Unexplained bruises or injuries.
  • Explanations for bruises or injuries that don’t make sense.
  • Mentioning her partner’s violent behavior, but then laughing it off like a joke.
  • Wearing clothing that doesn’t match the season (i.e. long sleeves in the summertime).
  • She’s often jumpy at the sound of a loud or sudden noise.

Emotional abuse can include anything from calling her names and intentionally putting her down to controlling her daily activities.  It might be subtle at first, such as texting or calling her over and over again to see where she is and what she’s doing. This can feel really flattering, especially for a teen who is excited to have a boyfriend. As it progresses, he might start to amp up his negative behavior if she doesn’t respond (e.g. He gives her the silent treatment all day if she doesn’t answer her phone when he calls). He might also start to control how she dresses or criticize what she eats. Emotional abuse can often be used to prevent her from breaking up with him. Sometimes abusers will threaten to harm themselves or even commit suicide if she leaves him. Watch for the following warning signs of emotional abuse:

  • Any change in the way she uses technology — maybe she’s not on Facebook anymore or she gets upset if she’s asked to turn off her phone.
  • She changes the way she dresses.
  • She apologizes and/or makes excuses for his behavior.

Sexual abuse is anything involving sex that is not 100% consensual between partners. Talk to teens about consent and explain what that means! Inform teens that just because they do something once, this does not mean they’ve consented to do it again. Ask teens what it means when he says that he loves her and what that means their next steps are as a couple. Be open to talking about sex with teens; if they feel judged they will often shut down and no longer be open to talking to you about it. Sexting (texting nude or partially nude photos of oneself or others) is happening more and more. Educate yourself about the laws in your state. In many states, if a minor texts a nude or partially nude photo of herself she can be charged with production and distribution of child pornography. Having a nude photo of another minor on a phone can result in a charge of possession of child pornography. Kids are often unaware of these consequences. Look for the following warning signs of sexual abuse:

  • Saying “I love you” quickly with a new partner.
  • Being protective of her phone or computer.

If you or someone you know is a victim of violence or abuse, please use the contact information below and make the call. Your involvement could change their life forever. Join us later this week for Part 2. Also, take some time to comment and ask questions or share other violence-prevention resources with others. 

The National Domestic Violence Hotline — 1-800-799-SAFE


Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.