Teen Dating Violence: SAY MORE

Teen Dating Violence: Is it love or is time to SAY MORE

Teen dating violence affects the lives of many young people in our society. It is a serious problem and can have long-term effects on the physical and emotional well-being of victims. It can also lead to a lack of trust, insecurity and even physical harm.

It is important to be aware of the signs of teen dating violence, and to take steps to protect yourself and others. If you or someone you know is a victim of teen dating violence, it is important to seek help. There are many resources available to help those in need, and to provide support and guidance.


In 2010, Congress declared February Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), a national campaign amplifying the needs of youth and their experiences with dating abuse. Teens, young adults and their loved ones join together to spotlight this important issue and how prevention and education can change the outcomes for those impacted by it.

To help raise awareness of this subject and support the youth of our community, YWCA Central Alabama is joining the conversation this year with our SAY MORE campaign. We want to amplify the voices of teens who have experienced dating abuse and shed light on how dangerous it can be to say nothing.

When it comes to dating abuse, don’t say less, SAY MORE!

Often, teen dating abuse is not recognized as an issue that teens and young adults experience. In reality, 1 in 3 high school students experiences either physical or sexual violence or both by their dating partner, and more than half of women (69.5%) and men (53.6%) who have been physically or sexually abused or stalked by a dating partner first experienced abuse between the ages of 11-24.

Combine those statistics with the fact that young women between the ages of 18-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, which is almost double the national average, and it’s easy to see that teen dating violence is a crisis that needs to be talked about more.

The effects of teen dating abuse are lasting even after the relationship has ended. Victims are more likely to:

  • Struggle academically
    • High school students who have been hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by their partner earned grades of C and D twice as often as earning grades A or B.
  • Experience depression and anxiety
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors such as tobacco, drugs and alcohol
  • Exhibit antisocial behaviors like lying, theft, bullying or hitting
    • Of the 8.5% of middle school students who report having bullied a classmate, nearly 1 in 5 have been a victim of dating abuse.
  • Think about suicide
    • Among high school students who have experienced sexual and physical abuse by a dating partner, nearly half of female and more than 1 in 4 male students have seriously contemplated suicide

In addition, teen victims are more likely to experience intimate partner abuse and/or sexual violence throughout their lifetime.

Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship

  • Checking cell phones, emails or social media accounts without permission
  • Extreme jealousy, insecurity or possessiveness
  • Constant belittling or putting you down
  • Explosive temper
  • Isolating you from family and friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Erratic mood swings
  • Physically inflicting pain or hurt
  • Telling someone what to do or repeatedly pressuring physical intimacy

Your Rights in a Relationship

In a relationship, you have the right to:

  • Always be treated with respect as an equal
  • Be loved for who you are
  • Not be hurt physically or emotionally
  • Refuse affection at any time
  • Have friends and activities apart from your partner
  • End the relationship
  • Know that abuse is never deserved and is never your fault

Relationship Check-In

If you’re not sure whether or not you trust your partner, ask yourself these questions as a way to assess your situation:

  • Is my partner supportive of me and my decisions for myself, both physically and emotionally? Am I supportive of my partner?
  • Is my partner consistent in their actions and behaviors? Am I consistent with my partner?
  • Does my partner demonstrate their trustworthiness by acting in accordance with what they say? Do they tell me they love me but treat me in unhealthy ways?
  • Are you both able to comfortably spend time apart from one another? Do you feel comfortable letting your partner know when you need space or time with friends or family?

Tips for Building a Healthy Relationship

  • Speak up when something is bothering you. It’s always best to talk about it instead of holding it in.
  • Respect your partner’s wishes and feelings. Also, let them know you are making an effort.
  • Find a way to compromise if you disagree on something. Conflicts should be solved together in a fair and rational way.
  • Give your partner support and let them know when you need extra support yourself.
  • Respect each other’s privacy and space. Just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to share everything and constantly be together.
  • Be thoughtful. It can be easy to forget to say or do something nice. Even something small can make a big difference.

How to Help a Friend

  • Don’t gossip
  • Believe their story
  • Tell them they don’t deserve to be abused
  • Let your friend make their own decisions
  • Help them make a safety plan

If you are experiencing dating violence or encounter someone who is, we encourage you to unapologetically stand up and speak out. Join us in the SAY MORE conversation online by downloading our 2023 Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Toolkit.

YWCA Central Alabama conducts a Healthy Relationships program with the goal of educating and empowering youth and young adults to avoid violent dating relationships and teach healthy relationship skills. Topics discussed in this programming include conflict resolution, self-esteem, feelings, safe dating and healthy relationships. Prevention education is offered in Jefferson, Blount and St. Clair counties. Email DVS@ywcabham.org for more information on the Healthy Relationships program. Click here for more information about our DV services.

SAY MORE Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month