Teen Dating Violence

What is Teen Dating Violence?

Teen dating violence (TDV) is a type of intimate partner violence. It occurs between two people in a close relationship.

TDV includes four types of behavior:

  • Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
  • Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.
  • Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over another person.
  • Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.

Teen dating violence also referred to as, “dating violence”, can take place in person or electronically, such as repeated texting or posting sexual pictures of a partner online without consent. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name-calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship—but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence. However, many teens do not report unhealthy behaviors because they are afraid to tell family and friends.

Source: CDC

Trained Safe Haven Advocates are available 24/7 to speak with you about your situation by calling

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Talking with your Teen about Relationship Abuse

Talking to teens and young adults about relationship abuse can be especially difficult, especially if that person is a child you care about. Important points to keep in mind when offering support to your teen include:

  • Accept what they are telling you. Listen and be supportive even when you don’t understand or agree with their decisions. Being judgmental will make them feel worse and less likely to reach out to you for help when they need you.
  • Allow them to make up their own mind. Leaving an unhealthy or abusive relationship is difficult and may even be dangerous. While you may have more years of experience with relationships than they do, they know the circumstances of their own relationship far better than you do. Remember that abuse is about power and control and making decisions for them can only add to the disempowerment they’re already experiencing from their partners.
  • Don’t prevent them from seeing their partner. Controlling their actions will make them more likely to keep secrets from you. Avoid taking their decision-making away from them – as this is a tactic they may already be experiencing in their abusive relationship Remember that forcing this may be something that their partner can easily use to manipulate and use as “proof” that other people are the problem.
  • Don’t post information about them on social media. Never use social media platforms to reveal your child’s location or where they spend time. A partner who is abusing them may be able to use your posts to find them. Learn more about Internet safety.
  • Don’t give up. Your instinct is probably to remove your child from harm’s way immediately, but abusive situations aren’t that simple. Even though helping them can be frustrating when you don’t understand or agree with their decisions, they need to know that they can trust you and depend on you for support. Make decisions that let them know that you’re there for them.

love is respect, a project of The Hotline, is available 24/7 to empower young people to prevent and end abusive relationships. Visit loveisrespect.org to access information, resources, and immediate support specifically aimed at teen and young adult relationships.

Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline

How Big is the Problem

TDV is common. It affects millions of teens in the U.S. each year. Data from CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey indicate that:

  • Nearly 1 in 11 female and approximately 1 in 15 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year.
  • About 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year.
  • 26% of women and 15% of men who were victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime first experienced these or other forms of violence by that partner before age 18.
  • The burden of TDV is not shared equally across all groups—sexual minority groups are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence, and some racial/ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by many types of violence.

Source: CDC

How healthy is my relationship?

A healthy partner encourages you to achieve your goals. They don’t resent your accomplishments or make you feel guilty for spending time with other people, and they aren’t excessively jealous. Ask yourself if:

  • Your partner respects you and your individuality.
  • You feel safe being open and honest with each other.
  • Your partner supports you and your decisions even when they disagree with you.
  • You and your partner have equal say and boundaries that are respected.
  • Your partner understands and respects your need to spend time with friends or family.
  • You can communicate your feelings without being afraid of negative consequences.

Source: Love is Respect

But my partner doesn’t physically hurt me…

Just because there’s no physical abuse in your relationship doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or that abuse isn’t occurring in other forms. It’s not healthy if:

  • Your partner is inconsiderate, disrespectful, or distrustful.
  • Your partner doesn’t communicate their feelings.
  • Your partner tries to control you or isolate you emotionally or financially.
  • Your partner humiliates you online or in front of your friends.
  • Your partner prevents you from getting a job or gets you fired.
  • Your partner threatens to out you or reveal information about you to your family or others.

Source: Love is Respect