Dating Violence

In Canada, young people (especially girls aged 15 to 24) are at high risk of relationship and sexual violence. This violence can happen at home, in school, in community and online, by family, friends or a dating partner.

During your teenage years, you undergo great physical changes, including brain development, through puberty and into your 20s. You receive different ideas about relationships from social media, video games, movies, friends, grandparents, and parents, and the mixed messages can be very confusing. Your youth is a time for figuring things out like who you’re attracted to and if your gender fits just right. Sometimes, when we start dating, things are amazing … but then, as things get more serious, it starts to feel wrong.

When it starts to feel wrong, it might be for many reasons. Listening to your instincts is a courageous skill. In some relationships, talking things through honestly and openly really helps. But in other relationships, it goes from up to down, to up and then down again, and you start to get dizzy and maybe scared.

You may be experiencing an unhealthy relationship (see video above) with someone you’re dating if:

  • They check up on you by looking through your cell phone, emails or social networks
  • They seem jealous and insecure when it’s not justified
  • They say mean things about you that hurt you self-confidence
  • They seem to explode when they’re angry
  • You see your friends and family less and less, and feel more alone
  • They accuse you of things you know you didn’t do
  • They go from happy to angry and back randomly
  • They hurt you physically in any way, including sexually
  • They treat you like you’re an object they protect
  • They tell you what to do or think
  • They pressure you to do things sexually when you’re not into it

When you’re being treated this way, it is very natural to feel things like shame, or fear, or nothingness. There are so many campaigns to help partners see how their violence is hurting the person they love, but often, education is not enough. Often friends and family don’t know how to step up to stop the violence. Sometimes you feel very, very alone.

There is a place to START asking questions about your experiences. You can also call our Crisis Line to talk about what is going on. Most importantly, we want to make sure you’re safe. And there’s a great way to check in confidentially with a specialized nurse in the SA/DV Response Team at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre. Check out their video!

Do you know someone experiencing dating violence?

When someone is experiencing these things in their relationship, it is important to be empathetic. Here at the Centre, we use phrases like:

  • “Thank you for trusting me.”
  • “I am sorry this has happened.”
  • “I believe you.”
  • “How can I help you right now?”
  • “You are not alone and we can connect you with people who can help.”

** It is important to understand your duty to report violence against a child under 16 years according to the Child and Family Services Act. Learn more here.

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