Teen dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner.
What Does Dating Violence Look Like?
Teens and young adults experience the same types of abuse in relationships as adults do. This can include:
- Physical abuse: any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon
- Emotional abuse: non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking
- Sexual abuse: any action that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion or restricting access to birth control
While young people experience the same types of abuse as adults, often the methods are unique to teen culture. For example, teens often report “technological abuse” — receiving threats by text messages or being stalked on facebook.
If you or a loved one is in a violent relationship, please get help.
Ten Warning Signs of Abuse
While there are many warning signs of abuse, here are ten of the most common abusive behaviors:
- Checking your cell phone or email without permission
- Constantly putting you down
- Acting extremely jealous or insecure
- Having an explosive temper
- Demanding to know where you are and who you are with all the time
- Isolating you from family or friends
- Undergoing large mood swings
- Physically hurting you in any way
- Being possessive
- Telling you what to do
Teen dating violence is a big problem, affecting youth in every community across the nation. Learn the facts below.
- Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
- One in three adolescent girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
- One in ten high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.
Why Focus on Teens?
- Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, almost triple the national average.
- Violent behavior often begins between the ages of 12 and 18.
- The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.
- About 72% of eighth and ninth graders are ‘dating.’
- Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.
- Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get a STD.
- Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide, compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.
Dating Violence and the Law
- Eight states currently do not include dating relationship in their definition of domestic violence. As a result, youth victims of dating violence cannot apply for restraining orders.
- New Hampshire is the only state where the law specifically allows a minor of any age to apply for a protection order; more than half of states do not specify the minimum age of a petitioner.
- Currently only one juvenile domestic violence court in the country focuses exclusively on teen dating violence.
Lack of Awareness
- Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
- Eighty one percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.
- A teen’s confusion about the law and the desire for confidentiality are two of the most significant barriers to young victims of violence seeking help.
The National Resource Center for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is coordinated by Break the Cycle