One in three teens abused in dating relationship - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

One in three teens abused in dating relationship


A new study shows one-third of teens have been emotionally, physically or sexually abused.

The study is still under review, but researchers presented the findings at a psychology conference this week.

It says of those abused in a relationship, its teens, the abuse victims between the ages of 13 and 19 years old that are calling the abuse hotlines.

"I was excited that they're actually calling," said Maryann Castillo with the Safe House for Women in Cape Girardeau.

Castillo teaches teenagers about the red flags in an abusive relationship.

"It's really exciting for me that they're recognizing signs of abuse and they're reaching out for help when they need it," said Castillo.

"We've seen our numbers increase throughout the years with teen dating violence," said Becky Holloway.

Holloway is the court advocate with the Safe House for Women. She too said the more they educate teens, the more they see those abused coming forward.

"I think they're just learning how to love, and they're just getting in there and having those relationships start at that age and there's a lot of emotions going on," said Holloway.

In contrast to a typical stereotype, the study shows guys are almost just as much a victim as girls.

Holloway said they see a lot of male clients at the safe house.

"It's a lot harder for a man to sometimes open up about that," said Holloway.

Additional research shows teens who are abusive in relationships often started out as bullies in middle school.

Castillo and Holloway said all this information continues to show how important education is.

"If we don't intervene at a younger age, then these problems are just going to continue to escalate," said Holloway.

"It carries over from your friendships to your relationships to your marriages," said Castillo.

So what can you do?

Castillo warns parents to watch out for abuse through technology. She recalls talking to the father of one girl in a deadly abusive relationship.

"It never occurred to him before his daughter’s death, that he thought she was safe sitting next to him on the couch, but she was being abused using her cell phone," said Castillo.

Castillo also says to look out for name calling or controlling behaviors which can escalate into physical or sexual abuse.

Experts also say there are a few signs you can look out for in a potentially abusive partner:

  • He or she checks your cell phone without your permission
  • He or she puts you down
  • He or she is jealous, insecure, or has an explosive temper
  • He or she isolates you from family and friends
  • He or she hurts your physically or emotionally
  • He or she tells you what to do

Experts also say abuse usually only gets worse if ignored. So take action to get help.

If you need help you can call the Safe House for Women at 573-651-1614. You can also check out the 24-hour help resources at or text “LoveIs” to 22522.

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