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Help! I think I’m being abused

It is shocking to read the statistics about how many teens find themselves in abusive relationships before they even graduate high school.
•Approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
•One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
•One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

We just came out of the month of February which sometimes is known as Teen Violence Awareness Month. However, much of this abuse is also psychological and emotional in nature. How can we know what is going on if our teens do not inform us? Here are some warning signs of emotional abuse.

Warning Signs

  1. Putting you down — in private, but often in public. This is an attempt to shame you. Projecting their feelings of low self-worth on to you.
  2. Embarrassing you in public.
  3. Blaming you for their abusive and unhealthy behaviors. Using the “if, then” trick. If you don’t do “this” then I won’t do “that.
  4. Calling you derogatory names repeatedly.
  5. Making you feel bad or guilty when you don’t consent to sexual activity. Laying guilt on you that you “should” be doing this, and if you really loved me, you would be having doing what they want.  Or “I will have to find it elsewhere.”
  6. Gaslighting. A form of psychological abuse where false information is presented to their victim to make them doubt their decisions, perceptions and judgements in their attempt to make you seem “crazy.”
  7. Making you feel like you are always doing something wrong.
  8. Isolating you from your family and friends. Playing victim when you want to spend time with family and friends. Stating “we” never spend time together. “If you loved me, you would want to spend time with me.”
  9. If you do go out, making multiple demands on you through numerous texts and phone calls.
  10. Threatening suicide when you attempt to break up with them — “I can’t live without you; I will kill myself if you break up with me.”

Become familiar with these signs and use them to identify whether or not you or someone you are close to is in an emotionally abusive relationship. These relationships can take on a life of their own and often people do not want to hear the advice they are being given and begin to withhold information and not share it with others.

Keep involved with your teen and stay aware of what he or she is dealing with in their dating relationships, keep these warning signs in mind when looking at texts and other forms of social media and in understanding their interactions with their partner.

Let’s work together to keep our teens safe and healthy.


Help photo available from Shutterstock.
Help! I think I’m being abused

Jessica O. Hunter, Psy.D.

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APA Reference
Hunter, J. (2016). Help! I think I’m being abused. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 20, 2019, from


Last updated: 11 Mar 2016
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Mar 2016
Published on All rights reserved.