Teen Dating Violence
Not all forms of emotional abuse are crimes and there is no specific Criminal Code offence called “dating violence”. However, most acts of dating violence, including assault, sexual assault, uttering threats, making indecent and harassing phone calls and intimidation are offences under the Criminal Code.
What You Can Do
- If you want to end the relationship and you fear for your safety, call 911 or your local police department immediately.
- Know that it is not your fault and that you are not alone. No one deserves to be abused.
- Confide in someone you trust, like a friend, your parents, a guidance counsellor or a teacher.
- Experiencing violence in relationships during the teenage years can also lead to experiences of further violence in their adult life.
There are things you can do to deal with dating violence and protect yourself. Here are some things you can try:
Talk about it: even though dating violence can be hard to talk about, sharing your experience with someone you trust can help you feel less isolated. You can try telling your story to a friend, sibling or safe adult (parent/caregiver, teacher, etc.).
Create a safety plan: developing a safety plan can help you escape from a violent situation. It’s important to know who you can talk to and where you can go in case of an emergency. If you’re in immediate physical danger or are injured, you can call 911 or the emergency services in your area. Remember, you can take steps to increase your safety, and you don’t have to do it alone.
Learning more: learning about healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, consent and sexual assault can help you stay informed about dating violence. Knowing the facts can help you be more prepared to talk about your experience, if you choose to do so.
While it’s common to fight or bicker in most relationships, sometimes relationships can be toxic and leave a person feeling insecure or scared.
Here are some signs of an unhealthy relationship:
- Physical abuse: your partner pushes you, hits you or destroys your things.
- Control: your partner tells you what to do, what to wear or who to hang out with. They constantly check up on you or use threats (for example, to harm you or themselves) to make you do things.
- Humiliation: your partner calls you names, puts you down or makes you feel bad in front of others.
- Unpredictability: your partner gets angry easily and you don’t know what will set them off. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells.
- Pressure: your partner pushes you to do things you don’t want to do or aren’t ready for, including sex or using drugs and alcohol. They don’t take “no” for an answer and they use threats or ultimatums.
If you’re experiencing physical, emotional or sexual abuse, it’s important to get support and stay safe.
It’s healthy to argue from time to time. Disagreeing gives you a chance to explore different perspectives and helps you express your feelings. It’s a problem if you’re fighting all of the time or if you say cruel things. It’s important to remember that physical fighting (punching, hitting, etc.) is never okay.
- Being yourself: you should feel comfortable around the person you’re dating. Changing yourself to please someone else won’t work in the long run so it’s important to be yourself.
- Honesty: you should feel comfortable talking about things in the relationship, including problems or concerns.
- Good communication: you discuss things that are important to you or your relationship. You ask each other what you’re thinking and feeling and you listen to each other.
- Respect: you respect and support each other, and listen to each other’s concerns. It’s important to treat yourself with respect and feel comfortable saying no to things that make you uncomfortable.
- Feeling safe: if you feel threatened in any way, you’re not in a healthy relationship. Feeling safe is both emotional and physical. It’s important to know that your partner won’t try to hurt your feelings or your body.
- Trust: trust is about being able to count on someone. It’s about believing that someone will be honest with you and follow through on their promises. When you trust someone, you know that they’ll support you and look out for you.
- Equality: equality keeps relationships safe and fair. For example, being equal in a relationship means sharing the power, not bossing each other around. Equality can also mean sharing the effort.
- Support: support is about feeling cared for and respected. In healthy relationships, people listen to each other, and help out with problems.
- Address the problem: discuss what you’d like to change. Aim for a solution rather than winning the argument.
- Step back: when tempers are hot, take a break. Suggest that you talk about after you’ve both had time to cool off and think.