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Love Hurts?

GLF is shedding light on teen dating violence.

Loveisrespect is a joint project of Break the Cycle and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. It is a 24-hour resource for teens who are experiencing dating violence and abuse and is the only teen helpline serving all of the United States. Through the site, teens and 20-somethings can ask anonymous, confidential questions and figure out their legal rights and responsibilities.


• The abuse is never the victim’s fault. It may be tempting to focus on what the victim could have done to avoid abuse. It is important to remember that nothing a victim does invites or excuses abuse. There are many reasons a person stays in an abusive relationship. Liking the abuse is not one of them.

• Telling someone to “just leave” the relationship is not the answer. There are many reasons why teens and 20-somethings stay in unhealthy relationships. For one, breaking up can be the most violent time in an abusive relationship. Without understanding the obstacles a young person may face and helping him or her through a safe separation, the situation usually gets worse, not better. Learn more about safety planning.

• Take relationships among youth seriously. Even if a person is young, his or her relationship still matters. By assuming teen relationships are just “puppy love,” adults risk overlooking the seriousness of dating violence. Abuse among youth can be just as destructive as among adults, if not more so. Dating abuse can lead to unwanted pregnancy, eating disorders and even suicide.

• Dating violence happens in every type of relationship, in every community. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, confident or shy. Anyone can become part of an unhealthy relationship and no one has a predisposition to becoming a victim of abuse. Victims do not begin the relationship with “low self esteem.”

• Dating violence isn’t just physical. Emotional and sexual violence can be just as, if not more, devastating to a young person’s health than physical violence. Learn more about the types of abuse.

• Do not advise teens to fight back. When a victim violently lashes out against his or her abuser, the violence often escalates. The abuser may even take that moment to “prove” the violence is mutual and, sometimes, to press charges. Moreover, fighting back does not end the violence. It is much more effective to seek legal help or make a safety plan.

• There’s never a point where you should “cut off” a friend who is being abused. Part of an abuser’s tactics is to isolate his or her victim. Without a supportive community, the victim finds it harder to leave the unhealthy relationship. Being a good friend, listening and supporting the victim’s decisions are the best ways to show him or her that there are alternatives to the abusive relationship. Learn more about how to serve as an effective ally.

1 in every 5 high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner 

– Journal of the American Medical Association

43% of reported cases of dating violence occurred in a school building or on school grounds 

– Day One

Among adult victims of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a dating partner, 22.4% of women and 15% of men first experience some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age

– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

50%  of 14-24 year olds have experienced digital dating abuse  

– Day One

2 out of 3 teens in abusive relationships do not tell anyone about the abuse

– Day One

Do you have questions about your relationship? About a friend’s relationship? Visit loveisrespect.org, and you’ll find interactive quizzes, information on all your relationships, questions and ways to speak to a trained peer via chat, text or phone, 24/7.


The Be Project is a program of The Family Place whose aim is to empower youth to be a part of the solution to end relationship violence – including bullying, sexual & teen dating violence – and build healthy relationships. By working with not only youth but also with the meaningful adults who impact their daily lives, such as teachers, staff, coaches, counselors, parents & community leaders, Be Project promotes widespread & long-lasting change.


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