Dating violence

Topics in
this section

1 The warning signs

2 Forms of violence

3 What to do in a situation of violence?

True or False?

It’s not always obvious that there is violence in a romantic relationship


The signs that can indicate that you are experiencing violence are not always easy to recognize and can be different from one person to another. Consequently, it’s possible to feel confused about what is or is not acceptable in a relationship.

1 The warning signs

What are the signs that there is violence in a romantic relationship?

While all the signs below may not always be present when you experience violence, if several signs are there and these continue over time , it’s a good indication that you are in a relationship that may be negative for you. Sometimes, only one of these signs is enough. For example, this is the case when jealousy takes over the relationship.

Quels sont les signes qu’il y a de la violence dans notre relation amoureuse?



  • Often ask if something is wrong in my relationship
  • Point out that I often look sad
  • Say they're worried about me
  • Say they don't see me as often as they used to
  • Say they disapprove of my relationship or my partner because of the way they act towards me


  • Many secrets, taboo subjects
  • Difficulty communicating and managing disagreements
  • Disagreements based on jealousy
  • Disagreements linked to what my partner says or thinks about my loved ones
  • Always the same person held responsible for the difficulties experienced
  • Always the same person making decisions
  • A need to "keep up appearances": my partner treats me differently when they are with their friends.
  • Many ups and downs: a roller-coaster ride


I feel like I'm not treated the way I should be

I'm afraid of my partner's reactions and behaviors

I change my behavior to please my partner, I avoid saying things that go against what they think.

I have the impression that my partner often makes the decisions, that it's their opinion that counts most

I can't always do what I want

I don't feel important or good enough for my partner, I often question myself, I feel like I'm the problem.

I feel negative emotions more often than positive ones

We all have a warning bell that helps us realize when a relationship is not positive. Listening to your feelings about the relationship can help you take a step back and ask yourself if certain things should be discussed with your partner. It’s important to act as soon as you see the signs to prevent the relationship from deteriorating and escalating to violence.

However, it can be difficult to have perspective when you are involved in a toxic or violent situation. Talking about it with friends and people you trust can help you see things more clearly.


témoignage de Gabriel, 17 ans

Gabriel, 17

témoignage de Roxanne, 17 ans

Roxanne, 17

témoignage de Nathalie, 17 ans

Nathalie, 17

témoignage de Bianca, 18 ans

Bianca, 18

2 Forms of violence

What are the different forms of violence?

Dating violence is when one partner controls the other or takes power over them, in person or by using technologies (cell phone, social media, email, etc.). Technologies allow us to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime, which can facilitate violence.

Violence can occur:

  • between current partners or ex-partners
  • in casual or long-term relationships
  • between partners of different genders or of the same gender

Quelles sont les différentes formes la violence?


Physical violence

Physical violence is the easiest form of violence to recognize, whereas psychological and sexual violence are less recognized because they don’t always leave visible marks.

The consequences of violence vary from one person to another, even if two people experience the same acts of violence. Violence can have an impact on your feelings, thoughts, behaviour, and interpersonal relationships.

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing dating violence, talk to someone you trust. Dating violence should never be trivialized, no matter what form it takes and the consequences it can have.


Dispelling myths about dating violence

Myth or reality?

Dating violence doesn’t exist among teenagers; only insignificant disagreements.


Dating violence experienced by teenagers is just as much a reality as intimate partner violence experienced by adults . Over half of teenagers in a relationship experienced at least one episode of violence (psychological, physical or sexual) in the last year. The consequences of violence are numerous and can affect the physical, mental and sexual health of teenagers as well as their future relationships.

Myth or reality?

Boys can be victims of violence in their relationships.


Although more girls experience violence, boys can also be victims of violence, regardless of the form (psychological, physical or sexual). When there is violence in a romantic relationship, it’s possible that both partners, regardless of gender, become both victims and perpetrators of violence. Being a perpetrator of violence is when someone is responsible for the violence and is the one to initiate it.

Myth or reality?

You can't justify violent behavior by saying you've lost control.


Dating violence is not committed because of a loss of control. Rather, it is a way to exert your will and assert power over your partner. However, during adolescence, violence can sometimes be used because teenagers don’t have the necessary tools to manage their conflicts. To prevent a partner from experiencing violence, it’s important that everyone develops strategies to effectively manage their emotions and conflicts.

Myth or reality?

Victims can sometimes provoke the violence they experience.


Certain situations can be seen as provocation and the perpetrators of violence can use this as a justification for their behaviour. In ALL cases of violence, the person who is responsible for the violence is the one who commits the acts. This has nothing to do with the attitude or behaviour of the victim. No situation or reason justifies the use of violence and no one deserves to experience this.

Myth or reality?

With a lot of love and determination, you can change your partner's violent behavior.


A violent relationship also includes positive periods between partners. Motivated by these positive moments, victims of violence can feel like they can change their violent partners and bring out only the good in their relationships. The reality is that after the first signs of violence appear, the situation generally worsens: the positive periods become less and less frequent. Only the perpetrators of violence can recognize their behaviour and are responsible for changing it.

If it only happens once, is it violence?

If it only happens once, the first instinct is often to give your partner the benefit of the doubt Sometimes, violent behaviour can be an exception and won’t happen again. However, the use of violence is always a sign that something is wrong in the relationship.

Even if it only happened once, take the time to reflect on the episode of violence and the emotions it made you feel. If you are comfortable doing so, it can be helpful to talk about the situation with your partner and to share how you felt. It’s also possible that you may be afraid of talking about it with your partner, that you don’t want to confront them because this would make you feel unsafe. In this case, it’s important to talk to another person and seek help.

Acts of violence are rarely isolated. They can become more frequent and escalate over time; consequently, it’s important to take action at the first signs and acts of violence. Ask yourself if it’s really an isolated incident or if there have been other episodes of violence before this one. Violence, whether committed in the context of a romantic relationship or of any other type of relationship, is never acceptable.

Et si ça n’arrive qu’une fois, est-ce que c’est de la violence?

In a relationship, is it always the same person who commits violence?

Dating violence, in any shape or form, can be always initiated by the same person or alternate between partners. In this case, sometimes the partners experience the violence, and at other times, they are the ones to initiate the violent behaviours. This dynamic is called mutual violence , when violent behaviours are reciprocal and initiated by both partners. Sometimes, this can be seen as a way to make your partner understand that you don’t like their behaviour: by being violent in turn, you hope that your partner will understand how unpleasant, degrading and violent it is. Or, sometimes, the partners can use violence from the start to express their dissatisfaction or manage their conflicts.

Responding to violence by using violence is never a good solution because this escalates conflicts and violent behavior. Consequently, it’s important to learn how to properly manage your emotions and find better strategies to resolve disagreements and communicate effectively. Talking to someone you trust is essential.

Dans un couple, est-ce toujours la même personne qui exerce la violence?

Why is it hard to end your relationship when it includes episodes of violence?

Sometimes, it can be hard to get out of a violent relationship or to react when faced with violence. In this case, it’s important not to feel guilty. You can feel trapped because you tell yourself:

1. I know my partner acted badly, but I really love them…

Sometimes, romantic feelings can lead you to focus only on the good times you share with your partner and to set aside conflicts and violent behaviour. Love isn’t enough to stay in a relationship that isn’t positive for you and that often makes you feel sad, anxious or not good enough most of the time.

2. I’ll be patient, my partner will eventually change…

You can stay in a toxic relationship by hoping things will change. However, change can only happen when the perpetrator of violence takes responsibility for their behaviour and seeks support. It’s not up to the person who experiences the violence to shoulder the responsibility for change. Remember that it’s rare for episodes of violence to be isolated and the cycle of violence often ends up repeating itself.

3. I’m afraid of losing my partner, of losing our mutual friends, and that my whole life will change…

It’s normal to have these types of fears, because a breakup can lead to the loss of several reference points . However, the end of a relationship doesn’t change everything: some people and activities were part of your life before the relationship. Instead of thinking about what you could lose by ending the relationship, think about what you might gain . Over time, other reference points and habits will develop.

4. I’m afraid of what my partner could do to me or that they might hurt themselves…

It’s normal to be afraid of what could happen if you end a violent relationship, especially if your partner uses manipulation or makes threats . No matter how your partner reacts to the breakup, you are not responsible. If you’re afraid for your own safety or that of your partner, it’s important to ask for help and to talk to a trusted adult.

5. I’m ashamed to ask for help…

It can be really hard to ask for help, especially if you’re ashamed or afraid of not being taken seriously or of bothering those close to you with what you’re going through . It’s normal to feel bad after living these experiences, but it’s important to ask for help to get out of the relationship. You should never have to deal with the violence you experience alone.

Situations of violence are never trivial. It’s perfectly normal to feel confused and to have trouble understanding what’s happening to you. It’s important to talk about it, even if it’s hard or if you’re afraid of being judged. The hardest thing is to take the first step. Talk about it with a friend, a trusted adult, or an organization like Tel-jeunes. It’s important to listen to yourself and to adopt a strategy you’re comfortable with.

What do I need to know about sexual consent?

Sexual consent is the agreement a person gives to their partner at the time of participating in a sexual activity. Consent can be given verbally or non-verbally. Silence does not mean that the person consents to a sexual activity.

The difference between sexual activity and sexual violence is consent. You have to make sure you have your partner’s sexual consent throughout the sexual activity and for each new activity.

During sexual activity, consent should be:

  • Really wanting the sexual activity
  • Not accepting under pressure or as a result of blackmail
Freely given
  • Feeling free to say yes or no to the sexual activity
  • Being able to stop at any time
  • Being able to give consent
  • Not being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Not being asleep or unconscious
  • Consenting with full information: the other person isn't keeping things from us that we should know.
  • Actively expressing desire to participate in a sexual activity
  • Being joyful and excited during sexual activity

According to the law, it’s possible for teenagers to consent to sexual activity in the following situations:

*Someone in a position of authority is responsible for your care and has a certain power over you. This can be a parent, a teacher, a babysitter, a coach, etc. It can also be someone in a position of trust who has the power to influence you. For example, this can mean a family member (e.g., a cousin, a stepbrother, or a stepsister) or the child of your parents’ friend. The nature of the relationship you have with this person puts you in a vulnerable situation relative to them.

In love with my coach

“Hi Tel-jeunes. I’m in love with my coach and I don’t know what to do… I get along really well with him and I know he likes me too. We see each other pretty often outside of practice and I feel like we’re closer than before... I feel like he would like something to happen between us. And I’d like that too. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with liking someone even if we’re not the same age… It’s mutual, I don’t feel like I have to. So why is it illegal then?”

The Tel-jeunes team frequently receives e-mails on the subject of being in love with a sports coach, teacher or school staff member. There are several reasons why the law prohibits romantic and sexual relations between a teenager and a person in a position of authority and trust. Firstly, teenagers are not considered adults because their development is not yet complete: on the physical level, the body and even the brain have not finished developing, and this is also the case on the psychological and emotional level, with the knowledge of oneself and one's limits, and the ability to recognize and manage one's emotions.

Adolescence is the period of life when the first romantic and intimate relationships are generally experienced, so this discovery requires the development of many new skills: knowing how to find a balance between one's love relationship and other relationships, knowing one's needs, asserting them, , listening to those of others, managing disagreements and conflicts, etc.

Although human beings continue to learn throughout life, adolescence is a special time because everything is still developing. Adults and teenagers are not at the same stage. The law specifies rules with age gaps to be respected, based on the development of young people. The aim is to ensure their physical, psychological and sexual well-being.

En amour avec mon coach

Also, someone in a position of authority like a sports coach or a teacher has power over your life: they can decide to keep you on the team or not, to let you play in the next game or not, to give you good grades or not. The relationship is not an equal one, one person has power, and the other doesn’t, so the teen is vulnerable. This vulnerability prevents the relationship from being equal, and consequently consent is not possible since it’s not informed.

How do I know if I’m consenting to participate in a sexual activity?

In addition to having an appropriate age gap, not being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and having an equal relationship with the other person … ask yourself the following questions:


  • …feel free to participate in the sexual activity?
  • …feel comfortable participating in the sexual activity?
  • …feel safe with this person?
  • …feel secure with this person?
  • …feel respected by this person?
  • say yes with my head, my heart and my body?
  • …like this? Am I excited to participate in the sexual activity?
  • feel like continuing the sexual activity?
  • …really want to and not only to make my partner happy or because I’m afraid of disappointing them?
  • …feel like the pace, time and place are right for me?

Comment savoir si je suis consentant·e à participer à une activité sexuelle?

How do I know if my partner is consenting to participate in a sexual activity?

Sexuality is a pleasure that can be experienced alone or shared with someone. When you want to share it, it’s important to make sure your partner also wants to. Here’s what you can do to ensure that your partner’s sexual consent is valid:


Verify their age

By law, are you and your partner within the legal age range to participate in this sexual activity?

Careful! The consent is not valid according to the law.

Ask directly

Has your partner agreed to take part in this sexual activity?

You can ask them if they agree. If you don’t have their agreement, you can’t initiate a sexual activity.

Check your partner's condition

Is your partner under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or unconscious?

Careful! The consent is not valid according to the law. In these situations, people don’t have the capacity to make an informed decision.

Be mindful of non-verbal cues

Does your partner seem at ease based on their gestures and facial expressions (smiles, looks you in the eye with passion, actively participates)?

Take the time to ask your partner how they feel, if they want to keep going or not. If you have any doubts or if your partner asks you to stop, you need to stop the sexual activity.

Validate consent for each sexual activity

Do you ensure your partner's consent throughout the sexual relationship (ask explicitly, listen to their expressions, etc.)?

It’s important to do it for every sexual activity (kissing, touching intimate parts, oral sex, penetration) and to respect your partner’s limits and wishes. For example, you can ask them: Do you want to keep going? Do you like that? Consent can be withdrawn at any time during sexual activity. “Yes” at the beginning can become “No” later on.

Tu t’es assuré·e de bien respecter tous les critères du consentement  Great!

You've made sure to follow all the consent criteria. Remember, you should repeat these steps every time you have sex. Now you can have fun with peace of mind.

Did you know that when you ask someone if they are consenting, you're not only ensuring their safety, you're also fostering communication in the sexual relationship? It allows us to find out what the other person likes and dislikes, to be sure of the other person's pleasure... and it makes sexual activities much more enjoyable! !

Dating violence doesn’t exist among teenagers; only insignificant disagreements.

3 What to do in a situation of violence?