Teen Dating Violence: The darker side of dating - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Teen Dating Violence: The darker side of dating

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By Brigida Mack - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) -- One in four. That is how many teens are victims of teen dating violence, according to experts. So chances are, it's someone you know.

One young woman, who didn't want WBTV to reveal her name, knows firsthand the dangers of teen dating violence.

"It was all about him, first and me, second," she recalled. "He'd just get mad at me and then he'd start saying I was stupid and I was a slut and a whore. You know, I didn't deserve anybody, I didn't deserve to be with him."

Now 19, and a junior at UNC-Charlotte, the victim was just 14 years old when she says she was in an emotionally abusive relationship with her first serious boyfriend.

"I just felt kind of like I had no place and no friends because he'd isolated me from just about everybody and it took a long time to repair my relationships with my friends and family," she said.

Sandy Hammonds, of the Mecklenburg County Women's commission, says domestic violence among teens is more common than you think.

"Dating violence is very prevalent," said Hammonds. "If you don't know what you're looking for, you can miss the signs."

Signs that often start as emotional abuse and escalate from there include name-calling, isolation from friends and family and then move on to physical abuse which can start out as pinching or spitting.

While the young woman WBTV talked to wasn't physically abused, Hammonds says it's no less devastating to teens.

"A lot of times these are their first relationship and they don't have a lot of frame of reference for dating relationships if that's their first one," she said.

That's why it's important for parents to look for signs like changes in appearance, unexplained injuries and if your teen's partner has history of past abuse.

Today's social network phenomenon can also give parents clues as to what is going on. If your teen's partner is constantly texting and calling them,  keeping tabs on them via Facebook and demanding to know their password, Hammonds says you need to be concerned.

"Don't be afraid to ask questions," she said.  "Don't be afraid to check up on them from time to time."

If you think your teen may be the victim of teen dating violence, contact the Mecklenburg County's Teen Dating Violence Program at 704-336-3210.

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