Teens and Youth

Teens are affected by domestic abuse in the same way a child would be. They usually still live with their parents, rely on them financially and continue to mature during their teen years. Abuse and domestic violence may be occurring at home, but there is an additional risk of abuse and violence to occur in dating relationships. Teens are put in a difficult place having many of the responsibilities of an adult with the limits of childhood. While trying to create an identity of their own and become independent from their parents, teens that experience abuse and violence are not able to develop with the other kids in their grade.

Teen Dating Violence/Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

Most teens begin dating in eighth ninth grade. For the majority these experiences will be positive, and give insight as to how healthy dating relationships should work. A few of these teens will find themselves with someone they can have a long-term relationship with into adulthood. However, some teens will find themselves in unhealthy, abusive, and even physically violent relationships. Unhealthy relationships are characterized by one or more Type of Abuse.
Abuse in relationships refers to mistreatment in the form of either physical violence (hitting, slapping, kicking) or verbal aggression (harsh words, threats). Abuse may also take the form of emotional abuse and neglect, social isolation and sexual assault and abuse. Teens are open to all these forms of abuse, but the effect will differ in each relationship. To learn more about the different forms of abuse, visit the interactive Power and Control Wheel.

  • The following are significant risk factors that increase the danger of an adolescent experiencing IPV:
  • currently sexually active: 34.3% of students reported having sexual intercourse with at least one person during the three months preceding the survey
  • physical fighting: 33.0% reported being in a physical fight at least one time during the twelve months preceding the survey
  • episodic heavy drinking: 28.3% reported having five or more alcoholic drinks in a row on more than one of the previous thirty days
  • current cigarette use: 21.9% reported smoking cigarettes on more than one of the previous thirty days
  • attempted suicide: 8.5% of students reported having attempted suicide at least once during the previous twelve months

Are you experiencing intimate partner violence?

You have the right to feel safe; so if you are in danger call police speak with a trusted adult and create a safety plan. A safety plan helps to increase safety and prepare you for the possibility of violence and harassment. Just answer the following questions:

Violence at School

  • If someone harasses me or argues with me and I feel unsafe I will:
  • If someone sends messages or notes through my friends and I feel threatened by them, I will:
  • Who can I rely on?

Violence at Home

  • If I am home and feeling unsafe with the person I am with I will:
  • If I receive threatening phone calls I will:
  • If I feel that I am being stalked I will:
  • Who can I rely on?

Violence in a Dating Situation

  • If I have an argument on a date and I feel unsafe I will:
  • If I am on a date and I feel uncomfortable and want to leave I will:
  • Who can I rely on?

Another useful aspect of a safety plan is having a code word or phrase. A code word/phrase is a word or group of words that stand for something other than its common meaning. This is a good way to communicate with family and friends when you are in danger and unable to get to a safe place or call for help yourself. The code word or phrase you choose should be known only to you and the people you plan to use it with.Is a friend being abused?

Keep in mind the following when you suspect a friend might be the victim of abuse:

  • Be there. Listen.
  • Be non-judgmental
  • Help your friend recognize the abuse
  • Help your friend create a safety plan
  • Help your friend talk to adults to get help
  • Support your friend’s strength
  • If your friend breaks up with the abuser, keep up the support!
  • If you become frightened or frustrated, get support from family members or other adults
  • Click here for more information on how to help a friend.



Additional information about teen dating violence

Local resources

  • New Horizons Shelter and Outreach Centers
    Youth & Family Advocate
    Phone: (608) 791-2610 ext. 1203
  • Gundersen Lutheran Domestic Abuse/Sexual Assault Services
    1900 South Ave
    La Crosse, WI 54601
    (608) 775-5462 or 775-4724
    Crisis Line: 1-800-362-9567 ext. 55950

Regional/state resources