Dating Violence

Approximately 9 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last 12 months.1 Teen dating violence means one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through physical, emotional, sexual or stalking abuse. Teen dating violence crosses all racial, economic and social lines and most victims are young women.

This is why parents need to talk to their teens about relationships before they start dating. Explain to your teen that love is a behavior, not a feeling. If someone says they love you, but their actions make you sad, fearful or angry then the emotion they are feeling is not love.

Teen dating violence is often hidden because teenagers typically:

  • are inexperienced with dating relationships.
  • are pressured by peers to act violently.
  • want independence from parents.
  • have "romantic" views of love.

Teenagers can choose healthy relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with respect.

Early warning signs that your relationship or date may eventually become abusive:

  • Extreme jealousy
  • Controlling behavior
  • Unpredictable mood swings
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Explosive anger
  • Isolates you from friends and family
  • Uses force during an argument
  • Hypersensitive
  • Blames others for his/her problems or feelings
  • Cruel to animals or children
  • Verbally abusive
  • Abused former partners
  • Threatens violence
  • Controlling you
  • Insulting you
  • Scaring you
  • Hurting you
  • Threatening suicide if you want to break up
  • Not allowing you to go out with your friends
  • Telling you how to dress, act or think
  • Accusing you of flirting
  • Blaming you for violence
  • Pulling hair
  • Threatening to find someone else
  • Making all the decisions
  • Following you around
  • Destroying letters, gifts or other possessions
  • Forcing sex

If you think you are in an abusive relationship:

  • Remember that no one deserves to be abused or threatened.
  • Remember you cannot change your batterer and in time the violence will get worse.
  • Call the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence (602) 248-8336 or (800) 782-6400.
  • Talk to a parent, trusted adult or locate a shelter or agency serving victims of domestic abuse in your community and make a plan to end the relationship and remain safe.

Your plan should include:

  • Changing your school locker or lock.
  • Changing your route to/from school or work.
  • Using a buddy system for going to school, classes and after school activities.
  • Keeping a journal describing the abuse.
  • Getting rid of or changing the number to any pagers or cell phones the abuser gave you.
  • Keeping spare change, calling cards, the number of the local shelter and the number of someone who can help you with you at all times.

Teen Dating Statistics

  • 72% of 8th and 9th graders report that they are “dating.”2
  • Females age 12 or older experienced approximately 552,000 nonfatal violent victimizations by an intimate partner in 2008.3
  • Persons age 18 to 19 and 20 to 24 experience the highest rates of stalking victimization.4
  • Females were 67% of the victims of juvenile domestic assault offenders.5
  • One of every 12 domestic assault offenders is a juvenile.6
  • Victims of teen dating violence are 3 to 4 times more likely to be cyberbullied as other teens.7
  • Among adult victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner, 22.4% of women and 15% of men first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.8
  • Often the pressure to be liked or just be part of a couple is reasons why teens report they stay in unhealthy relationships.
  • Teen dating violence often starts with simple teasing or name calling.

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2011.   2National Conference of State Legislatures, 2012.   3U.S. Department of Justice, Domestic Violence Fact Sheet, November 2011.   4Bureau of Justice Statistics, Stalking Victimization in the United States, January 2009.   5U.S. Department of Justice, Domestic Assaults by Juvenile Offenders, November 2008.   6Ibid.   7American Psychological Association, Teen Dating Violence, February 2012.   8Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 2011.

CDC: Teen Dating Violence

CDC: Teen Dating Violence

Get more information about Teen Dating Violence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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National Institute of Justice: Teen Dating Violence

National Institute of Justice: Teen Dating Violence

Take a closer look at adolescent romantic relationships, specifically the 10% that turn violent and the 20%-30% that experience psychological victimization.

Learn More