Home > Ending Violence > Public Awareness > Healthy, Equal Relationships > Resources for Teens



Resources for Teens

Truth About Abuse

There are different kinds of violence like physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse. Statistics show that most of the time, this kind of violence is committed by men against women and girls.

Violence against women happens when men and women are not treated as equals in society. Some kids grow up learning that men are supposed to be tough and controlling, and women are supposed to be obedient. These kinds of stereotypes are old news and are harmful because they teach kids that boys are better than girls. We can get these kinds of negative messages from TV, video games, music videos and from other places or people.

If we hear this stuff when we’re kids, we might grow up to think this is how men should treat women in relationships. The truth is that boys and girls are equal and should be treated that way in all relationships. So, if we can talk and act in a way that shows others we respect them and if we feel we are all equal, then we’ll have better relationships. If we’re aware of what abuse is and where it comes from, then we can help stop it when it happens and even help stop it from happening in the first place.

Physical Abuse is when a person touches your body in an unwanted or violent way. This may include: pushing, shoving, grabbing, hitting, kicking, pulling hair, biting, choking, or using a weapon or another item to hurt you.

Verbal/Emotional Abuse is when a person says something or does something that makes you afraid or makes you feel bad about yourself. This may include: insults, threats, yelling, name-calling, saying mean things about your family and friends, embarrassing you on purpose, telling you what to do, or threatening to hurt you or hurt themselves.

Sexual Abuse can happen when a person touches you or makes you touch them in any way that makes you feel creepy or uncomfortable.  This may include kissing or forcing you to touch that person’s private body part

Dating violence is when we are close to someone who uses emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, violence and control to express their feelings or to get their own way. It can include physical, sexual, and/or verbal/emotional abuse.

Stalking is a pattern of events over time where a person’s sense of freedom, lifestyle, and/or well-being feels threatened. Stalking behaviours are unwanted behaviours, like following someone home night after night, and/or frequent threatening phone-calls or e-mails. Some other types of stalking behaviour include: sending letters or gifts despite being told that they are unwelcome; monitoring a person's home by driving by, parking, or lurking nearby.

The Best Kind of Relationships

The Best Relationships

The best relationships are healthy ones.  Even if you don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, it’s a good idea to learn what a healthy relationship is so you’ll know what to expect. In a healthy, equal relationship:

  • You both have respect for each other.
  • There is trust. There is honesty. The only way to build trust is to be honest and open with each other.
  • You support each other in good times and bad, like cheering for your girlfriend at her basketball game or listening to your boyfriend talk about his parents’ divorce.
  • It’s important to make decisions together, like what movie to see or whose friends to hang out with. If one person is bossing the other around, it’s not fair or equal.
  • You feel comfortable being yourself.  You don’t have to change who you are.
  • You can keep hanging out with your friends and doing the things you like to do, like playing in a band or being on the swim team.
  • You solve problems together calmly without yelling.

What’s in it for you?

There are so many benefits to being in a healthy, equal relationship. Here are just a few:

  • Girls like guys who treat them as equals and guys like girls who expect to be treated as equals.
  • You’ll feel more comfortable if you’re listened to and if your opinions are respected.
  • Guys who treat girls as equals and girls who expect to be treated like equals set a good example for others.
  • You can be yourself and know you’re being liked for who you are.
  • You’ll get respect and be treated like an equal.
  • You can relax and feel safe knowing your ideas will be taken seriously.
  • Being open and sharing your feelings will bring you closer.

Watch Out for Unhealthy Relationships

Being in an unhealthy relationship can make you feel confused, ashamed, hurt or afraid. You might think that if a guy ever hit you, you’d dump him right away. That isn’t always easy because you might not see the early warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. Sometimes there are a lot of other unhealthy things a guy will do before he gets to the point of hitting. You might not think you would be the kind of guy, or be with the kind of guy, that would do those things. So, here are some things to watch out for:

  • Trying to control what another person does, like telling them what to wear or who they can be friends with;
  • Yelling, screaming, or breaking things instead of talking things out;
  • Hurting someone’s feelings and making them feel unimportant by insulting them and calling them names;
  • Any kind of violence, like pushing, grabbing or kicking;
  • Threatening someone, like pretending to hit them or saying things like, “If you don’t do what I say, you’re gonna get it”;
  • Jealousy, like a guy getting upset when his girlfriend talks to another guy;
  • Bullying, teasing or picking on someone;
  • Pressuring someone to stop spending time with their friends and family, or to stop doing the things they like to do, like playing sports or being in the school play;
  • Pressuring someone to do anything they don’t want to do, like drinking alcohol, smoking, doing drugs or having sex.

Tips for Girls

Whether you’re just hanging out with guys as friends or wondering what it would be like to have a boyfriend, there’s a lot to learn about relationships. Every girl has to decide what kind of woman she wants to be and what kind of relationships she wants to have. In a healthy, equal relationship, you will both feel valued, respected and like equals. Both girls and guys deserve to be in relationships that feel good. Below are some tips to help you have a healthy, equal relationship.

1. Be yourself. Everyone is different. No one has to fit into someone else’s idea of what it means to be a ‘real woman’. The only standard you need to live up to is the one you set for yourself. Feeling good about yourself is the first step to being in a healthy, equal relationship.  If you like yourself, you’ll be looking for someone who will also like you just the way you are.  Be true to yourself.

2. Expect respect.  Girls and guys are equal and you deserve to be treated that way. Listen to how people talk about girls. It’s only cool to use words that show respect and value. Speak up when you hear someone disrespecting girls. Let them know that the joke isn’t funny.

3. Be a friend.  Friends listen to friends. They care about each other. They like to hangout together. There is give-and-take. Expect the guy you’re with to treat you like a friend.

4. Express yourself.  Healthy, equal relationships require lots of talking. Both of you should feel comfortable to share your thoughts and feelings. Expect to be heard and taken seriously. Let him know how you feel and ask him how he feels. Listening - really listening - and taking each others’ ideas seriously are signs of respect.

5. Ups and downs.  All relationships have them.  It’s normal to feel hurt or angry sometimes, but in a good relationship arguments can be resolved calmly, without yelling or name-calling. Work things out by listening to and understanding each other’s point of view and coming up with solutions together.

6. Do your own thing.  Having a boyfriend is great, but being in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to be together all the time. Both of you need your own space and time to explore your own interests.  When you spend time apart, you will look forward to spending time together.

7. Set your boundaries. Know what you want and what you don’t want.  If you ever feel uncomfortable with a guy, change the situation.  Move to another room, find your friends, leave the party or call your parents or guardian.

8. Be a role model. Younger girls, like your younger sister or kids at school, look up to you. Teach them that girls always deserve respect and that as a girl you should always expect to be treated fairly and equally. Speak up if you think someone is treating you differently because you’re a girl. Show them how cool it is to be a girl.

9. Be a leader.  Talk to your friends about healthy, equal relationships. Raise awareness in your school and in your community. Learn more about the issue by doing a school project on dating violence. Talk to your teacher about arranging for a guest speaker to talk about healthy equal relationships. Start an anti-violence club in your school or put up posters in your school. Make a difference.

10. Danger zone. Some girls think that if a guy ever hit them, they’d just leave him.  A guy doesn’t usually start out by hitting his girlfriend out of the blue.  He may start by telling you how to dress and do your hair. He may get really jealous, and try to separate you from your friends. He may insult you, yell or break things.  Watch out for these warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. If any of these things happen to you, talk to a parent, guardian, teacher, or another adult you trust.

For more help and advice, call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or go to www.kidshelpphone.ca. You never have to give your name and you can write in a question online.

Tips for Guys

Whether you’re just hanging out with girls as friends or wondering what it would be like to have one as a girlfriend, there’s a lot to learn about relationships.  Every guy has to decide what kind of man he wants to be and what kind of relationships he wants to have. In a healthy, equal relationship, you will both feel valued, respected and equal. Both girls and guys deserve to be in relationships that feel good. Below are some tips to help you have a healthy relationship:

1. Be yourself. Everyone is different. No one has to fit into someone else’s idea of what it means to be a ‘real man’. The only standard you need to live up to is the one you set for yourself. Feeling good about yourself is the first step to being in a healthy, equal relationship.  Look for role models of the kind of man you want to be.

2. Start with respect. Girls like guys who treat them with respect. Ask her for her opinion, listen to what she has to say, take her seriously. This will show her you feel she’s equal. Speak up when you hear someone disrespecting girls. It’s only cool to use words that show respect and value. Let them know that the joke isn’t funny. Remember, you can’t show respect if you don’t respect yourself.

3. Be a friend. In a healthy, equal relationship, you will both feel comfortable being yourselves. Get to know each other, hang out and find things you both like to do. Have fun together. Friendship is an important part of a healthy, equal relationship.

4. Communicate.  Open up. In a healthy, equal relationship, both of you will feel comfortable enough to share your thoughts and feelings. Ask your girlfriend what she likes best about your relationship. Listening - really listening - and taking each others’ ideas seriously are signs of respect.

5. Ups and downs. All relationships have them. It’s normal to feel angry or hurt sometimes, but in a good relationship, arguments are resolved calmly, without yelling or name-calling. Work things out by listening to and understanding each other’s point of view and coming up with solutions together.

6. Do your own thing. Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you have to be together all the time. It’s important that you both have your own space. Hang out with your friends and keep doing what you like to do. Show her you trust her by encouraging her to spend time with her friends. When you spend time apart, you’ll look forward to spending time together.

7. Be a role model. Younger guys, like your younger brother or kids at school, look up to you. Talk to them about what they see on TV and at school. Tell them that guys don’t have to be tough all the time. Show them what it means to treat girls with respect. Cool guys care about her personality, not just about how she looks. 

8. Be a leader. Talk to your friends about healthy, equal relationships. Raise awareness in your school and in your community. Learn more about the issue by doing a school project on dating violence. Talk to your teacher about arranging for a guest speaker to talk about healthy equal relationships. Start an anti-violence club in your school or put up posters in your school. Make a difference.

9. Danger Zone. Recognize the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. You can do something if you think your friend is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship. If a friend is extremely jealous, expects his girlfriend to agree with everything he says or talks badly about her, tell him you think the way he treats his girlfriend is not cool. If a friend’s boyfriend puts her down in front of her friends, yells at her or if she stops hanging out with her friends because of him, tell her that you are worried about her and that she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. Watch out for these warning signs of an unhealthy relationship. Talk to a parent, guardian, teacher or another adult you trust.

For more help and advice, call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or go to www.kidshelpphone.ca. You never have to give your name or you can write a question on line.