HomeAid Orange County

​How to Prevent Teen Dating Abuse

by Margaret Bayston, Executive Director of Laura’s House

November 02, 2017

Did you know that one in three adolescents in the US is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and/or technological abuse from a dating partner?

Abuse comes in many forms including insults, social sabotage, sexual harassment, threats and/or acts of physical or sexual abuse. The most common form of abuse amongst teens (and even children as young as 8) involves the use of technology; texts, emails, and social media are all being used by abusers to coerce and easily control their victims. What is alarming is that studies show that 80% of victims, usually girls, continue to date the abuser after the abuse has begun (Betz, 2007).

Dating abuse issues in teen relationships are different from adult domestic abuse in that it may be the teenager's first experience with love or sex and they lack the emotional maturity to know how to handle such situations well. Also, because the relationships can be more intense in the beginning, the abuse tends to escalate much faster with teens.

Why don’t these teens leave their abusive relationship?

Fear is the most common reason victims stay in an abusive relationship. They often lack the awareness of available resources, have low self-esteem, and think no one will believe them or can stop the violence even if they did know about it. They believe it would only make things worse, so they hide their shame and embarrassment about their situation. Sadly, 81% of parents reported that they were unaware of the dating abuse issues their children face in the world today.

Programs like Laura’s House can assist victims in ending an abusive relationship safely. Our team of specialists gives presentations at middle and high schools every day, teaching our youth how to recognize ‘red flags’ in an abusive relationship, which include the following behaviors: possessiveness; manipulation; anger and control issues; harsh comments about dress, make-up, friends and family; being disrespectful of others – particularly women.

We believe it is particularly important to show them what their options are without judgement, what resources are available and how to access them, and what a healthy relationship should be like. We are proud to offer ‘Heart Chat,’ a program where any young person can connect with a therapist via Skype or phone to get confidential, free answers to their relationship questions. The great thing about this service is that there is no parental consent needed and no transportation required. All these teens/tweens have to do is send an email to heartchat@laurashouse.org

A recent case came to Laura’s House anonymously from a tween after she had attended a Laura’s House Annual Candlelight Vigil. She had been sexually assaulted by a boy at school and, when she was courageous enough to come forward and tell her story, she was bullied and ostracized by her ‘friends’ and classmates for reaching out for help. She was blamed for what happened to her and treated so badly that she had to change schools. Unfortunately this is something that our specialists hear all too often when presenting at middle and high schools around the County. After all she had been through, this young woman was brave enough to share her story to raise awareness and give others who have been abused the opportunity to speak up.


Educate others to #stoptheviolence. If you or anyone you know needs assistance with any kind of intimate partner violence, please contact Laura’s House any time at 1-866-498-1511.


HomeAid has been ending homelessness with Laura’s House since 1995, through the development of two homes that have added 70 beds for women and children who are survivors of domestic violence. Laura’s House programs are also a recipient of HomeAid Essentials donations and HomeAid Community Outreach activities.

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Did you know that one in three adolescents in the US is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and/or technological abuse from a dating partner?