What is Dating Violence?
Dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. Although dating violence often refers to a pattern, the first instance of abuse is still dating violence. Calling dating violence a pattern doesn’t mean the first instance of abuse is not dating violence. All relationships are different, however, the one thing that is generally similar in all dating relationships is that violence escalates over time and the relationship becomes more dangerous for the teen or young adult.
According to loveisrespect.org, these are the statistics:
- Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.1
- One in three 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. 2
- One in ten high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.3
- One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse or date rape.4
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. 5
- Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94% of those age 16-19 and 70% of those age 20-24 were victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend. 6
- Violent behavior often begins between the ages of 12 and 18. 7
- The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.8
- About 72% of eighth and ninth graders are ‘dating.’ 9
Don’t Forget About College Students
- Nearly half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.10
- College students are not equipped to deal with dating abuse – 57% say it is difficult to identify and 58% say they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it.11
- One in three (36%) dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, email or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.12
- One in six (16%) college women has been sexually abused in a dating relationship.13
- 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.14
- Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get a STD.15
- 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.16
Dating Violence and the Law
- Eight states currently do not include dating relationships in their definition of domestic violence. As a result, youth victims of dating violence cannot apply for restraining orders.17
- 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.18
- Currently only one juvenile domestic violence court in the country focuses exclusively on teen dating violence.19
Lack of Awareness
- Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.20
- Eighty one percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.21
- Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse.22
Any teen or young adult can experience violence, abuse or unhealthy behaviors in their dating relationships. A relationship may be serious or casual, monogamous or not, short-term or long-term. Dating abuse does not discriminate – it does not see gender, sexual identity, economic status, ethnicity or religious preference.
Ten Warning Signs of Abuse
While there are many warning signs of abuse, here are ten common abusive behaviors:
- Checking your cell phone or email without permission
- Constantly putting you down
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Explosive temper
- Isolating you from family or friends
- Making false accusations
- Mood swings
- Physically hurting you in any way
- Telling you what to do
HOPE can help. Contact HOPE by calling 1-888-299-4673 or by using our contact form. HOPE provides free programs to schools, community and civic groups. HOPE also provides free and confidential services to victims of teen dating violence.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Physical Dating Violence Among High School Students—United States, 2003,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 19, 2006, Vol. 55, No. 19.
2 Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus. Available at http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/2008_focus_teen_dating_violence.pdf.
3 Grunbaum JA, Kann L, Kinchen S, et al. 2004. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2003. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 53(SS02); 1-96. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5302a1.htm.
4 Schoen, C. et al., The Commonwealth Fund Survey for the Health of Adolescent Girls, November 1997.
5 Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice and Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, 1993-2004. Dec. 2006.
6 Callie Marie Rennison, Ph.D., Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim, 1993-99” (2001). Available at: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/ipva99.pdf
7 Rosado, Lourdes, The Pathways to Youth Violence; How Child Maltreatment and Other Risk Factors Lead Children to Chronically Aggressive Behavior. 2000. American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center.
8 S.L. Feld & M.A. Strauss, Criminology, 27, 141-161, (1989).
9 Foshee VA, Linder GF, Bauman KE, et al. The Safe Dates Project: theoretical basis, evaluation design, and selected baseline findings. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 1996; 12(2):39-47.
10 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” Available at: http://loveisnotabuse.com/web/guest/surveycurrent/-/journal_content/56/10123/193547/DEFAULT.
11 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” Available at: http://loveisnotabuse.com/web/guest/surveycurrent/-/journal_content/56/10123/193547/DEFAULT.
12 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” Available at: http://loveisnotabuse.com/web/guest/surveycurrent/-/journal_content/56/10123/193547/DEFAULT.
13 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” Available at: http://loveisnotabuse.com/web/guest/surveycurrent/-/journal_content/56/10123/193547/DEFAULT.
14 Jay G. Silverman, PhD; Anita Raj, PhD; Lorelei A. Mucci, MPH; Jeanne E. Hathaway, MD, MPH, “Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality” JAMA. 2001;286(5):572-579. doi:10.1001/jama.286.5.572
15 Decker M, Silverman J, Raj A. 2005. Dating Violence and Sexually Transmitted Disease/HIV Testing and Diagnosis Among Adolescent Females. Pediatrics. 116: 272-276.
16 D. M. Ackard, Minneapolis, MN, and D. Neumark-Sztainer, Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, Date Violence and Date Rape Among Adolescents: Associations with Disordered Eating Behaviors and Psychological Health, Child Abuse & Neglect, 26 455-473, (2002).
17 Break the Cycle 2009 State-by-State Teen Dating Violence Report Cards. Available at www.breakthecycle.org/resources-state-law-report-cards-2009.html.
18 Break the Cycle 2009 State-by-State Teen Dating Violence Report Cards. Available at www.breakthecycle.org/resources-state-law-report-cards-2009.html.
19 I. Sagatun-Edwards, E. Hyman, et al. The Santa Clara County Juvenile Domestic and Family Violence Court, Journal of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts. 2003.
20 Liz Claiborne Inc., conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, (February 2005).
21 “Women’s Health,” June/July 2004, Family Violence Prevention Fund and Advocates for Youth, http://www.med.umich.edu/whp/newsletters/summer04/p03-dating.html.
22 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Teen Research Unlimited, (May 2009). “Troubled Economy Linked to High Levels of Teen Dating Violence & Abuse Survey 2009,” Available at: http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/web/guest/search/-/journal_content/56/10123/81382.