WomensLaw serves and supports all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

About Abuse

Information for Teens and Young Adults

Updated: September 3, 2019

What is teen or young adult dating violence?

Teen or young adult dating violence or domestic violence is a pattern of controlling and abusive behavior against a romantic partner in a relationship where at least one of the people is 13-24 years old. You may experience dating violence even if you are not being physically abused. Dating violence among teens and young adults can take many forms, including mental/emotional abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, and more. You can read about these different forms of abuse on our Forms of Abuse page. Dating violence among teens and young adults can occur in any relationship, no matter how long you’ve been dating.

What are warning signs of abuse in teenage and young adult relationships?

Many people of all ages don’t recognize that they are in an abusive relationship. We have a checklist of abusive behavior for people of all ages on our Signs of Abuse page. Below are some warning signs of teen and young adult dating violence specifically.

Does your partner:

  • demand to look at your email or social media accounts, or log into your email or social media accounts without permission?
  • demand to check your phone, or look at your phone without your permission;
  • put you down, insult you, or call you names?
  • get jealous or insecure, or make you change your behavior to make your partner feel better?
  • try to make you ‘confess’ to doing things that you haven’t done or make false accusations about your behavior, like accusing you of cheating?
  • have outbursts or a “bad temper” that causes you to be frightened or fear for your safety?
  • demand that you stop talking to certain friends, classmates, or others?
  • insist that you not tell your parents about your relationship or about certain parts of your relationship?
  • pressure or force you to have sex or do sexual things you don’t want to do or that make you feel uncomfortable or disrespected?
  • physically hurt you in any way?1

You can also see more examples of dating violence at Loveisrespect’s “What Are the Different Types of Dating Abuse?”

1 This information was adapted from Loveisrespect’s “Is This Abuse?”

What are the possible effects of being in an abusive relationship as a teen or young adult?

Experiencing dating violence or abuse as a teenager or young adult may lead you to:

  • do poorly in school;
  • not attend school out of fear for your safety;
  • engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as binge drinking, smoking, using drugs, or disordered eating;
  • engage in unsafe sex practices, which can lead to pregnancy or sexually-transmitted infections;
  • develop a negative body image;
  • become uncomfortable with your body or sexuality;
  • become depressed or suicidal; or
  • enter into abusive relationships as an adult.1

1Consequences,” Youth.gov