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Youth Dating Violence

What is Youth Dating Violence, and what are the signs of an unhealthy relationship?

“Because I love you…Such a simple phrase can take on a different meaning in an unhealthy relationship, escalating from a statement of care to one of control”


Click here to watch the #ThatsNotLove campaign.

It is quite common to hear about domestic violence and dating violence among adults, but what about youth? Romantic relationships increase during adolescence, which can typically begin at age 15. These days, the youth dating scene is generally more fluid than it used to be. We see more casual relationships, non-monogamy (having multiple partners), and relationships over social media. However, whether a romantic relationship begins as healthy or unhealthy, there is always the possibility of it becoming abusive. Dr. Deinera Exner-Cortens from the University of Calgary’s Psychology Department and team members presented national data on youth dating violence. The study analyzed 3,711 participants in grades 9 and 10 across Canada and reported that over one in three Canadian youth who had dated, experienced youth dating violence in the past 12 months. (The complete study can be seen here).

So what exactly is Youth Dating Violence?

Youth Dating Violence, also known as YDV for short, is aggressive, violent, or manipulative behaviour from current and or past dating/sexual partners among ages 15-24. The violence can range from sexual, physical, emotional, psychological to cyber engagement, which can negatively impact one’s well-being. Some examples of violence may include:

Anyone can find themselves in an unstable relationship. Read the signs below for a quick self-check-in.

10 Signs of an Unhealthy Relationship:

  1. Intensity – When someone expresses extreme feelings and over-the-top behaviour that feels overwhelming.
  2. Manipulation – When someone tries to control your decisions, actions, and emotions.
  3. Sabotage – When someone purposely ruins your reputation, achievements, or success.
  4. Guilting – When someone makes you feel responsible for their actions or makes you feel like it’s your job to keep them happy. 
  5. Deflecting Responsibility – When someone repeatedly makes excuses for their unhealthy behaviour.
  6. Possessiveness – When someone is jealous to a point where they try to control who you spend time with and what you do.
  7. Isolation – When someone keeps you away from friends, family, or other people.
  8. Belittling – When someone does and says things to make you feel bad about yourself.
  9. Volatility – When someone has an extreme, unpredictable reaction that makes you feel scared, confused or intimidated.
  10. Betrayal – When someone is disloyal or acts in an intentionally dishonest way.


10 Signs of a Healthy Relationship:

  1. Comfortable Pace – The relationship moves at a speed that feels enjoyable for each person.
  2. Honesty – You can be truthful and candid without fearing how the other person will respond. 
  3. Respect – You value one another’s beliefs and opinions, and love one another for who you are as a person. 
  4. Kindness – You are caring and empathetic to one another, and provide comfort and support.
  5. Healthy Conflict – Openly and respectfully discussing issues and confronting disagreements non-judgmentally. 
  6. Trust – Confidence that your partner won’t do anything to hurt you or ruin the relationship.
  7. Independence – You have space to be yourself outside of the relationship. 
  8. Equality – The relationship feels balanced and everyone puts the same effort into the success of the relationship.
  9. Taking Responsibility – Owning your actions and words.
  10. Fun – You enjoy spending time together and bring out the best in each other.


If you or someone you know is experiencing youth dating violence, please reach out for help as soon as possible:

If you are in immediate danger or fear for your safety, please call 911


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