Teen Dating Violence Warning Signs

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Teen dating violence happens no matter the gender. This lesson discusses the different warning signs and cues that peers and caring adults can look out for to make sure their teens are safe.

Teen Dating Violence

Unfortunately, teen dating violence is common. According to studies 1/3 of high school students end up in an abusive relationship. During these formative years are when teens are just learning how to have effective relationships, teens can get controlling and violent. Sometimes it can be due to background, bad examples, or even illness. A few things to remember:

  • Teen dating violence can happen to any gender. It's a common misconception that girls are usually the victim, but boys can be as well, so know the warning signs for all teens.
  • Violence can happen at any age. Although, younger usually means smaller or less threatening, it doesn't mean they are not controlling and violent.
  • Don't assume; ask the hard questions. Just because a young girl is wearing a long shirt and lots of makeup, does not mean she is being abused. So don't jump to conclusions. Instead, be aware, and make sure to be inquisitive with an open mind.

Warning Signs


There are many warning signs that could mean there is violence in a teen relationship. Not all of these lead to violence, but they can.

Signs of an abuser:

  • Possessive of their partner
  • Paranoid or jealous about partner's time away from the relationship
  • Easy to anger/outbursts for no reason/mood swings
  • Belittling loved ones, family, and friends
  • Checking up on what their partner is doing (checking cell phones, talking to friends)
  • Does not want to share relationship with others
  • Bossy or controlling, making their partner do and wear what they say.
  • Trying to isolate the person away from friends and family
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Suicidal tendencies

Signs of being abused:

  • Change of personality, more angry/sad/quieter than normal
  • Flinches with fast movement
  • Dramatic weight changes
  • Grades plummeting
  • Scared behavior
  • Placing themselves last, thinking their needs are not important
  • Change of appearance, dramatic hair cuts, new or old clothes, gaunt face
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Consistent bruises
  • Odd excuses for bruises

What Do You Do?

Although it can be easy to pinpoint that there is an issue, what do you do then? First, if possible sit down with the abused party see if you can have a conversation. They may be wary to speak on the issue, so remember:

  • Do not belittle their relationship or their feelings.

They maybe young, but inferring that it is just a phase or they are too young to know what love is will keep them from listening. Validate their feelings and they may open up.

  • Do not bad mouth their boyfriend/girlfriend.

They are in the relationship for a reason, they likely still have feelings for their partner. If you belittle their relationship, they may shut down.

  • Ask questions.

Ask open-ended questions so they have to explain, not just answer in yes or no responses.

  • Address their public image.

Due to social media, teens struggle with looking bad in front of others. So when discussing options on leaving the abusive relationship, always keep this in the back of your mind, because it could be in the front of theirs. If breaking up will make them look bad to their peers, that may the primary reason for staying in the relationship.

  • Be aware of the teen's peer network.

If breaking up with the abuser will cause all their friends to leave, or to also get violent, then they need a support network. They will not want to be alone, so it is necessary to find or help create a support network in the community for these situations. Additionally, if the abused teen's family and friends support their desire to break up with an abuser, it is more likely to happen. Discuss your concerns with supportive family members so they can encourage leaving the abuser.

  • Be aware of insecurities.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account