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When Teen Dating Turns Bad

Teenage love can be exciting. But sometimes it can be more than puppy love and turn dangerous. A new article in Family Circle magazine tells parents some of the signs to look for in an unhealthy teen relationship, which may be more common than many people think.

The magazine found that 25 percent of teens are harassed or put down by a partner via their cell phone through verbal conversations or texting. The magazine also found that 71 percent of teens say their boyfriend or girlfriend spread negative rumors about them and 75 percent of parents didn't know their teens were physically hurt or bruised by a partner.

Anya Alvarez, 18, says that at 15 she was abused by two different boyfriends. She said the first relationship lasted only a month, but the emotional abuse began after two weeks. She wasn't allowed to go out with her friends or do the things she loved. He also started putting sexual pressure on her. Anya then entered into a second relationship — which also lasted a month — and the exact same thing happened. She never talked to her mother about it.

"She had no idea," Anya told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. I didn't tell her about the sexual abuse, how they tried to control me. I didn't see it as a problem. I thought, it happened, I'll get over it and move on. I didn't realize how it would affect relationships I had later."

Betty S. Wong, executive editor of Family Circle, said when teens enter into their first relationship, they don't know what is appropriate. Things like wanting to be with the other person at all times and jealously can easily be mistaken for love.

"Love really is blind in your first relationship," she said.

Wong said parents should pay attention to changes in their teen's behavior. If she changes the way she dresses, stops participating in family activities or her grades fall, it could be a sign that a boyfriend or partner is being controlling. Another big sign is cell phone or computer use.

"Technology creates accessibility," Wong said. "With cell phones and computers, kids are never out of touch anymore."

Wong said if parents find out their child is in an abusive relationship, they should control phone use to minimize further contact. Parents should also reach out to the school, and perhaps have the child's locker moved or pick her up earlier.

"Also," she said, "just be supportive."

If you are a teen in need of help or are a parent who suspects your child is in an abusive relationship, seek help here:

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NTDAH)
866-331-9474
Loveisrespect.org

Choose Respect
Chooserespect.org

National Domestic Violence Hotline
800-799-7233, ndvh.org

Break the Cycle
888-988-8336
breakthecycle.org
Legal advice, support, online communities and education for abused teens

Love Is Not Abuse
Loveisnotabuse.com