Emotional Abuse and Teen Dating

Emotional Abuse and Teen Dating

There are many teens in dating relationships who are being emotionally abused and do not realize it. Most media attention focuses on physical and sexual abuse in a relationship, but emotional abuse is no more acceptable than any other type of abuse.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is the use of guilt, fear, humiliation, intimidation, coercion, manipulation, or any other non-physical means of controlling or subjugating another person. Emotional abuse in a dating relationship generally leads to the abused partner feeling worthless and undeserving of anything but the abusive treatment she has become accustomed to.

Types of Emotional Abuse

There are many types of emotional abuse. If you are a teenager in a dating relationship, how do you know if you’re being emotionally abused? You may wonder, “Is this abuse?” How do you know if your boyfriend or girlfriend is being emotionally abusive? Here is a list of behavior that is considered emotional abuse.

  • He insults or criticizes you.
  • He tells you what to wear, where to go, what to do.
  • He acts jealous or possessive.
  • He forbids you to spend time with your friends, only with him.
  • He texts or IMs you excessively so that he always knows what you’re doing.
  • He looks at you or behaves in a manner that scares you.
  • He tries to force you to have sex before you’re ready, including oral sex.
  • He threatens to hurt you if you leave him.
  • He blames you for the hurtful things he says and does.

What to Do If You’re Being Emotionally Abused

The important thing to keep in mind if you’re being emotionally abused is that you are not to blame for the abuse. One of the things that emotional abuse does is that it lowers your self-esteem, making you feel like you are unworthy of a better relationship that makes you happy. Because of this, you may feel like no one else would ever love you or find you attractive. You may want to stay with the abuser because you don’t want to be alone and you don’t think anyone else would want you.

If you recognize any of the types of emotional abuse listed above, realize that you do deserve better and that you need to get out of this abusive relationship.

You can call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 for help and advice. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and all calls are anonymous and confidential. Calling the helpline can give you the courage you need to get out of your abusive relationship.

If you fear for your safety, do not break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend in person; do it over the phone or by email. Make sure you do not end up alone with him or her; if you have to talk in person, make sure it is in public with friends or others around you. Tell your parents and your friends so that they know what is going on. Call 911 if you ever feel you are in immediate danger.

Additional Resources

For more information about teen dating and emotional abuse, visit, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. Other articles of interest:

  • Abusive Relationships: Getting Out
  • Online Support for Abuse Victims