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Dating violence is when one person purposely hurts or scares someone they are dating. Dating violence happens to people of all races, cultures, incomes, and education levels. It can happen on a first date, or when you are deeply in love. It can happen whether you are young or old, and in heterosexual or same-sex relationships. Dating violence is always wrong, and you can get help.
Dating violence includes:
Dating violence often starts with emotional abuse. You may think that behaviors like calling you names or insisting on seeing you all the time are a "normal" part of relationships. But they can lead to more serious kinds of abuse, like hitting, stalking, or preventing you from using birth control. Learn more about the warning signs of abuse and the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Dating violence can cause serious harm to your body and your emotions. If you are in an abusive relationship, get help.
In the United States, teens and young women experience the highest rates of relationship violence. In fact, 1 in 10 female high-schoolers say they have been physically abused by a dating partner in the past year. Learn more about leaving an abusive dating relationship.
If you haven't dated much, it can be hard to know when a relationship is unhealthy. Some signs of teen dating abuse include:
It is never okay for someone to hit you or be cruel to you. You may think alcohol or drugs make a partner abusive. Those things may increase the chances of abuse, but they never make it right.
You also may think it is your fault that your partner has hurt you. But you don't control how your partner acts, and you can't make someone mistreat you.
Keep in mind that if you sometimes hit your partner first, you can get help learning how to stop. Talk to a mental health professional, like a school counselor, or a doctor or nurse.
Teenage girls in physically abusive relationships are much more likely than other girls to become pregnant. Abuse can get worse during pregnancy, and it can harm the baby growing inside you. Never get pregnant hoping that it will stop the abuse. You can ask your doctor about types of birth control that your partner doesn't have to know you are using.
If you are under 18, your partner could get arrested for having sex with you, even if you agreed to have sex. Laws covering this are different in each state. You can learn more about the law in your state.
If you think you are in an abusive relationship, learn more about getting help. See a doctor or nurse to take care of any physical problems. And reach out for support for your emotional pain. Friends, family, and mental health professionals all can help. If you're in immediate danger, dial 911.
If you are thinking about ending an abusive dating relationship, keep some tips in mind:
If you are ending a long-term or live-in dating relationship, you may want to read our section on domestic and intimate partner violence.
If you are meeting someone you don't know or don't know well, you can take steps to stay safe. Try to:
Date rape drugs are drugs that are sometimes put into a drink to prevent a person from being able to fight back during a rape. These drugs have no color, taste, or smell, so you would not know if someone put them in your drink. They also make it hard to remember what happened while you were under their influence.
If you go to a club, bar, or party, here are some steps to take to avoid date rape drugs:
You can read answers to frequently asked questions about date rape drugs. And keep in mind that drinking a lot of alcohol can make it hard to fight off an attacker, too.
Content last updated: September 30, 2015.