Frequently Asked Questions for Teens
Question: What kind
of abuse occurs in relationships?
Relationship abuse comes in many forms. Most abuse falls within one
of four categories: Physical, Emotional, Psychological, and Sexual.
You need to be aware of what they look like so you will know if one
or more of them are part of your relationship. Here is a brief description
of each kind of abuse.
Physical: actions which cause physical
pain or injury, such as kicking, pushing, punching, pinching.
Emotional: actions which cause loss
of self-esteem, such as name-calling, swearing, criticizing.
Psychological: actions which create
fear, such as isolation or threats.
Sexual: acts of a sexual nature that
are unwelcome or uncomfortable.
Question: What are
some early warning signs that my partner might abuse me?
There are certain behaviors that are often seen in people who abuse
their partners. Here is a list of behavior that should raise red flags.
|Blaming others for problems
|Blaming you or others for feelings
|Breaking or hitting things
||Inflexible and rigid patterns of behavior
|Constantly checking up on partner
|| Jealousy and possessiveness
|| Low self-esteem
|Cruelty to animals or children
|| Substance abuse
|| Threats of violence
|Forcing sex on partner
|| Unrealistic expectations
|Forcing traditional gender roles
||Use of force during an argument
|History of abuse
|| Verbal abuse and name-calling
If your partner behaves in any of these ways, you should
find someone to talk with about your concerns. Consider talking with
a close friend or relative you can trust. If you don't know someone
like this, you can call us at 605 996-4440, toll Free 1-888-996-8909.
Question: I get jealous
sometimes. Does that mean I'm an abuser or potential abuser?
Everyone gets jealous sometimes. What you need to watch for is jealousy
that is extreme or used to control the other partner. Here are some
signs of extreme or controlling jealousy.
You get mad when your partner talks to other people.
You get mad when your partner has good friends other than you.
You get mad when your partner spends time with other people.
You get mad when your partner expresses warm feelings for another
You withdraw, sulk, or become angry and abusive when expressing
All of these behaviors are damaging to the relationship,
and harmful or potentially harmful to your partner.
Question: I thought
my partner must really love me when my partner gave me a cell phone.
Now my partner wants to know where I am all the time. Is this normal?
This is an early warning sign that your partner might become abusive
in the future. You partner is showing possessiveness and controlling
behavior. Possessiveness is when someone treats you as if you are
a belonging. The possessive person will not want you to share your
time or give any attention to anyone else. It is similar to jealousy,
but even more extreme. It is also a dangerous sign of trouble ahead.
A controlling attitude is also a serious danger sign.
This happens when one partner rules the relationship and makes all
of the decisions. The other partner's point of view is not important.
Often the controlling partner tries to tell the other how to dress,
who to talk to, where to go.
Providing the other partner with a cell phone is one
way to maintain control by keeping tabs on the other partner. This
could be what is happening in your relationship.
Question: My partner
doesn't get mad very often, but when s/he does get mad it scares me.
How can I tell if this is a warning sign of abuse?
if your partner rarely gets angry, you should always watch out for
people who seem to get too angry. These people may hit walls or lockers,
yell loudly, get red in the face, call names, have fire in their eyes,
or actually threaten others with violence. This type behavior is a
serious warning sign of future relationship abuse. If your partner
does any of these things when angry, you need to seek assistance.
Question: My partner
is acting abusive or at least showing some of the warning signs, but
I feel sorry for my partner and don't want to end the relationship
because I think I can make things better. Isn't this a good reason
to stay with my partner?
This is not a good reason to stay with your partner. Many people in
abusive and potentially abusive relationships feel this way. That
is why it is important for you to know the following facts.
The abuse is not your fault.
You do not deserve to be abused.
You cannot change someone who is abusive.
Staying in the relationship will not stop the abuse.
Over time, the abuse will get worse.
Question: I've tried
several times to end my relationship, but my partner says life would
not be worth living without me. I love my partner and don't want to
hurt my partner. What should I do?
Your partner has low self-esteem. This is one of the early warning
signs of abuse. People with low self-esteem do not like themselves
very much. In a dating relationship a person with low self-esteem
may say, "I'm nothing without you," or "You are my
world." This is not real life.
Your partner is the one responsible for developing his
or her own self-esteem. As long as you stay in a relationship like
this you allow your partner to use you as a crutch and your partner
may never seek the help they need.
Question: My partner
is abusive and I want out. What should I do?
Here is a checklist of things to remember and things you can do.
Things to remember:
You deserve better. Do not put up with abuse.
You are not alone. Teens from all different backgrounds
and all across the country are in, have been in or know someone
in an abusive relationship.
You have done nothing wrong. It is not your fault
that your partner abuses you.
The longer you stay in the abusive relationship,
the more intense the violence will become. It does not get better
Being drunk or high is not an excuse for abuse.
No one is justified in attacking you just because
he or she is angry.
Talk with your parents, another family member,
a friend, a counselor, a faith or spiritual leader, or someone else
you trust. If you remain isolated from friends and family, your
abuser has more opportunity to control and abuse you.
Get help from professionals. Your community will
have places you can go for help. Look for help at rape crisis centers,
health services, counseling centers, youth organizations, churches
or spiritual centers, your family health care provider, and other
Educate yourself. There is more information on
If the abuse happens at school, report it to a school
counselor or security officer.
Keep a log of the abuse. You may need it for evidence
if you have to take legal action.
Do not meet the abuser alone. Do not let the abuser
in your home or car when you are alone.
Avoid being alone at school, your job, or on the
way to and from places.
Always tell someone where you are going and when
you plan to be back.
Establish a regular time or place to contact someone
so they will know to check on you if they do not hear from you as
Develop a safety plan and rehearse what you will
do if the abuser becomes abusive.
Give yourself some space, take a break from dating.
Question: I have a
friend who I think is in an abusive relationship. I want to help my
friend. Is there anything I can do?
teens talk to other teens about their problems. If a friend tells
you things that sound like his or her relationship is abusive, here
are some suggestions on ways to help.
Do not ignore signs of abuse. Talk to your friend.
Express your concerns. Tell your friend if you
are worried and why.
Offer support to your friend.
Do not judge your friend.
Point out your friend's strengths. It is possible
that your friend has lost the ability to recognize their own abilities
and gifts. This happens to many people in abusive relationships.
Encourage your friend to confide in a trusted adult.
Offer to go with the friend for professional help.
Find out what laws in your state may protect your
friend from the abuser.
Never put yourself in a dangerous situation with
the victim’s partner.
Do not try to mediate or otherwise get directly
Call the police if you witness an assault.
Tell an adult such as your school principal, a
parent, your guidance counselor, or school resource officer, if
you suspect the abuse but do not witness it.
Question: I'm not
in a relationship now, but I want a healthy relationship when I find
the right partner. Are there things I can do right now to increase
my chances of success?
You have already taken the first step by asking this question. There
are things you can do, not only to increase your chances of success,
but also to help others do the same thing. Consider doing these things.
Ask your school library to purchase books about the cycle of violence
and how to avoid it or get out of it.
Safety Planning for Teens
You should think ahead about ways to be safe if you
are in a dangerous or potentially dangerous relationship. Here are
some things to consider in designing your own safety plan.
What adults can you tell about the violence and
What people at school can you tell in order to
be safe--teachers, principal, counselors, security?
Consider changing your school locker or lock.
Consider changing your route to/from school.
Use a buddy system for going to school, classes
and after school activities.
What friends can you tell to help you remain safe?
Choose a code word and use it to discreetly tell
the people you trust that you are in danger and need immediate help.
If stranded, who could you call for a ride home?
Pick a safe and secret location where a friend
or family member can pick you up.
Keep a record with dates and descriptions of violent
If you don’t feel safe, don’t break
up in person. If you decide to break up in person, do it in a public
place and ask someone you trust to be nearby in case you need them.
Get rid of or change the number to any beepers,
pagers or cell phones the abuser gave you.
Keep spare change, calling cards, number of the
local shelter, number of someone who could help you and restraining
orders with you at all times.
Where could you go quickly to get away from an
Think independently and trust your instincts. Don’t
let anyone talk you into doing something that is not right for you.
Recognize that there is nothing you can do that
will change your partner’s behavior, but there are things
you can do to keep yourself safe.