There’s Nothing Romantic About Teen Dating Violence

By , 17, Staff Writer
March 6, 2019

You, one of Netflix’s newest series, follows Joe Goldberg (played by Penn Badgley), a man that becomes obsessed with a woman he’s romantically interested in. During the series, his abusive behavior escalates from being overly protective and excessively jealous to stalking. Some viewers have romanticized Joe’s dangerous actions, thinking that this behavior is acceptable in a relationship. Badgley has responded on Twitter, shutting down the glorification of his character and explaining why Joe’s behavior is absolutely not OK.

While You might be an example of an extreme dating violence scenario, abuse is a serious issue in teen relationships that is unfortunately common. February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, bringing attention to the signs and effects of abusive teen relationships. Other than physical or sexual abuse, manipulative actions like demanding social media passwords or constantly wanting to know the whereabouts of your partner are some of the signs of an abusive relationship. “One in three teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become adults,” according to

An example of abusive behavior from You is when Joe steals his partner’s phone, justifying it by saying he needs to “protect her” from who he says are the bad people in her life. That kind of behavior is rooted in a lack of trust and respect for his partner and is not OK. In another episode, Joe attempts to engage his partner sexually in public without her consent. Consent is all about communication. Some people think non-verbal cues (such as eye contact or body language) are a green light to go further, but consent is more complex than that. A clear verbal “yes” or “no” is just the beginning when it comes to consent. Partners have to talk through what they do or don’t want to do to ensure neither partner is feeling pressured to say yes. Pressuring or coercing someone to finally say “yes” is not consent.

While shows like You might make abuse seem glamorous, dating abuse is a serious and scary situation. The romanticization of Joe’s abusive behavior highlights how necessary understanding teen dating abuse is and why recognizing signs of unhealthy behavior is so important.

You are not alone if you are experiencing dating abuse. There are resources for teens who feel like they or someone they know might be experiencing an abusive relationship. Websites like, and can help you learn and identify the signs of dating violence. For immediate help, visit or call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, a free 24-hour resource.

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