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Dating violence and abuse are never your fault — you deserve to feel safe with the person you’re dating. Learn the signs of an abusive relationship, and what you can do if you’re in one.

What is dating violence?

Dating violence is when someone you’re going out with hurts you or repeatedly tries to control you. It can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter your age, gender, sexual orientation, how long you’ve been with the person, or how serious the relationship is. Being abused is never your fault.

Abusive relationships can look like:

  • Physical abuse — hitting, choking, pushing, breaking or throwing things out of anger, grabbing you too hard, or blocking the door when you try to leave. It’s abuse even if it doesn’t leave a bruise or mark.

  • Verbal abuse — yelling at you or calling you dumb, ugly, crazy, or some other insult.

  • Emotional abuse — telling you that no one else would want to be with you, making you feel guilty for something you did that wasn't wrong, making you feel like you don't deserve love, saying it's your fault they treat you badly, blaming you for their anger and abuse, playing mind games, or trying to get you to believe untrue things about yourself.

  • Digital abuse — hacking into your accounts, controlling what you do on social media, stalking your profiles.

  • Isolation and jealousy — trying to control where you go and who you hang out with, getting extremely jealous.

  • Intimidation or threats — threatening to break up with you, threatening violence (towards you or themselves), or threatening to share your secrets as a way to control you.

  • Peer pressure — pressuring you to use drugs, alcohol, or do other things you don't want to do.

  • Sexual violence — pressuring or forcing you to have sex or do sexual things when you don't want to, or stopping you from using birth control or condoms when you want to.

These behaviors are ways for your boyfriend or girlfriend to control you or have all the power in your relationship. Any kind of abuse can make you feel stressed out, mad, or depressed. Dating violence can affect how you do in school, or cause you to use drugs or alcohol to deal with the abuse.

How do I know if my relationship is abusive?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. But if you think you’re being treated badly, you probably are. Trust your gut. Healthy relationships make you feel good about yourself, not bad.

You’re probably in an abusive relationship if the person you’re dating:

  • Calls, texts, or messages you all the time asking you where you are, what you’re doing, or who you’re with

  • Checks your phone, email, or social networking messages without your OK

  • Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with

  • Threatens to “out” your secrets, like your sexual orientation or gender identity

  • Stalks you or keeps track of what you’re doing on social media

  • Pressures you to sext

  • Says mean or embarrassing things about you in front of other people

  • Acts jealous or tries to stop you from spending time with other people

  • Has a bad temper and you’re afraid of making them mad

  • Accuses you of cheating or doing something wrong all the time

  • Threatens to kill or hurt themselves, or hurt you if you break up with them

  • Hurts you physically

If you think you’re in an abusive relationship, talk with your parents or other adults you trust. They can help you figure it out, and also help you end the relationship safely.

What should I do if I’m in an abusive relationship?

If you're in an abusive relationship, you need to get out of it. Breaking up with someone who’s abusive can be really hard, especially if you love them. It’s totally normal and okay to miss them. Just keep reminding yourself why you want to break up. You need to do what's best for you.

When you’re ready to break up, don't let them talk you out of it. If they threaten to hurt you or themselves or someone else, tell an adult you trust right away. Your safety is the most important thing. Don't be afraid to ask your parents and friends for help. If breaking up in person sounds scary or unsafe, it might be better to call, text, or email.

If you’re in an abusive relationship, know that you’re not alone and that you deserve better. Abuse is never your fault. It’s not right for anyone to hurt you, make you feel bad about yourself, or pressure you to do things you don’t want to do. Everyone gets mad sometimes, but talking about it is the way to deal with problems — not hurting you or putting you down.

For more advice on ending abusive relationships, visit LoveisRespect.com.

How can I help a friend who’s in an abusive relationship?

Watching a friend be in an abusive relationship is really hard. But sometimes the best way to support them is to listen without judging them.

One easy thing you can do to help your friend stay safe is to not mention or tag them on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites. That’s extra important if the person they’re dating has stalked or tracked them online.

You can also try to get your friend help in your school or community. Parents, teachers, and other adults you trust can be really good at dealing with problems like this. If you think your friend might not be safe, talk to someone about it right away.

Let your friend make their own decisions. You can give support and advice, but don't tell them what to do. And don't get mad if they don’t do what you think they should. Getting out of an abusive relationship can take time and can be really hard — sometimes even dangerous. It can be even harder if your friend loves the person who’s hurting them.

It’s totally normal to get frustrated. But try to keep being a good friend. Do fun stuff with them and remind them how great they are and how much they deserve love and respect from the people in their life. Sometimes just being there and letting them know you care and is the best thing you can do.

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