“May hope rise within you. May peace wash over you.” – Charlene Costanzo

What is dating violence?

  • Dating violence is a pattern of controlling behavior over a partner by using physical, verbal, emotional, sexual and tech/cyber abuse. Some examples of these controlling behaviors includes:
    Your partner is always checking up on you, calling or texting you, and demanding to know where you have been and with whom you have been. Your partner also closely monitors your social media and attempts to limit your contact with certain people.
  • You seem to worry about upsetting your partner or making him/her angry. This can result in giving up things that are important to you, such as spending time with friends or other activities, and are becoming more isolated.
  • Your partner may threaten to hurt him/herself if you ever leave the relationship. Your partner says things such as: “I’m nothing without you”, or “You are my whole world.”

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is violence within the home that typically involves violent or controlling behavior between partners or spouses. Teens can be impacted by this and you may feel that it is your fault, you may have difficulty concentrating in school, and feel isolated by not wanting to have friends over to your house.

Click HERE for some quizzes to test your relationship and knowledge of healthy relationships and dating violence!

The Relationship Spectrum PSA by love is respect

If you notice that you may have unhealthy or abusive tendencies: Can I Stop Being Abusive at love is respect?

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Examples of a healthy dating relationship:

  • Respectful communication
  • Independence
  • Accountability and responsibility
  • Feelings of safety and comfort
  • Equality

If you are noticing a pattern of control in your relationship, it may be a warning sign of teen dating abuse. Examples of an unhealthy relationship are:

  • Jealousy
  • Guilt-tripping
  • Monitoring through social media
  • Limiting your contact with friends/activities
  • Put downs and name calling

What is sexual violence?

Teen sexual violence can occur as part of a dating violent relationship. It also can occur with a friend, classmate, family member, or a stranger.

Sexual violence includes any type of sexual conduct or sexual contact that is not consensual and is forced, or when the victim could not give consent. Sexual violence occurs when a perpetrator exerts power and control over the teen, it is not due to a teen’s sexual orientation or appearance. Many people think that sexual violence is just rape, however, sexual violence also includes:

  • Taking advantage of you or their relationship with you.
  • Threatening or forcing someone to have sex.
  • Having sex with someone who is unable to give or deny consent if they are mentally incapable, drugged, or severely intoxicated with alcohol (e.g., passed out or in a black out)

The experience of sexual abuse is an extremely personal matter. You may be feeling loneliness, shame, guilt, confusion, fear, depression. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!
Sexual Violence Continuum: Where to draw the line?

Consider your safety!


If you have experienced any form of violence, you might…

  • Think it’s your fault.
  • Feel angry, sad, lonely, depressed, or confused.
  • Feel helpless to stop the abuse.
  • Feel threatened or humiliated.
  • Feel anxious.
  • Not know what might happen next.
  • Feel like you can’t talk to family and friends.
  • Be afraid of getting hurt more seriously.
  • Not want to get anyone in trouble.

Get Help

Being a victim of violence is not your fault. Nothing you say, wear, or do gives anyone the right to hurt you.

Dating, Domestic and Sexual Violence Services:

If you or someone you know has witnessed abuse in the family or has been a victim of abuse, you may feel like you can’t talk about it to anyone. At times, teens may feel confused, scared, depressed, lonely, or angry. SAFE in Hunterdon has counselors that you can talk to about this. SAFE in Hunterdon is a not-for-profit organization that provides almost all services free of charge. One on one counseling is provided for teens of all sexual orientations and genders. Support services are for teens who have experienced sexual assault, dating violence, human trafficking/sex trafficking, domestic violence, sexual harassment. Services are also provided to significant others of teens such as parents, friends, family members, etc.
Resources for friends, family, and victims of violence:
Care – Show you care by letting them know you are there for them.
Address – Address the situation that concerned you.
Resources – Connect them with resources that can help them deal with their situation
Empathy – Show them empathy by letting the victim know it is not their fault and they don’t deserve to be treated this way; no one has a right to hurt them.

Helpful links

rape, abuse, incest national, network rainn.org


Helpful reads:

Carter, Wm. Lee, Ed.D., It Happened to Me, A Teen’s Guide to Overcoming Sexual Abuse , Ca., New Harbinger Publications, 2002.

Levy, Barrie. In Love and In Danger: A Teen’s Guide for Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships, Seattle: Seal Press, 1998.

Matsakis, Aphrodite, PhD., The Rape Recovery Handbook, Ca., New Harbinger Publications, 2003.


For Parents:

Sexual violence & Teen Dating Violence

It is a difficult time in any parent’s life when their child is hurting. If your teen child has been sexually assaulted or abused in some way, you as a parent need to take care of you as well as your teen child. SAFE in Hunterdon does have services to support you and help you cope. You may be feeling a wide range of emotions yourself, and will probably be reacting differently than your teen child.

You may see your teen exhibit: blaming themselves for the abuse/assault, worry about getting in trouble, feel ashamed, experience nightmares, appear depressed or anxious.

Some helpful tips for parents:

  • Communicate to your teen it is not their fault.
  • Simply listen to your teen and encourage them to talk.
  • Encourage the teen to talk to a counselor, you can assist them in reaching out to SAFE in Hunterdon.
  • Obtain resources


Parent Resources
National Sexual Violence Resource Center – www.nsvrc.org
Love is Respect – www.loveisrespect.org
rape, abuse, incest national, network – rainn.org
National Child Traumatic Stress Network – www.NCTSN.org


Domestic Violence

Impact of domestic violence on your teen can include feeling scared, powerless, insecure, angry, self-blame, difficulty concentrating in school, anxious, physical ailments such as stomach aches and headaches.


How Can Parents Help?

Let them know they can talk to you about the violence in the home, provide understanding, communicate violence is not okay, reach out for support services and/or resources.