Teen Dating Violence
Just like intimate partner violence (IPV), dating violence is a pattern of coercive, intimidating, or manipulative behaviors used to exert power and control over a partner. It can include digital abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, and stalking.
Dating violence affects millions of youths across the United States of America. Research shows rates of physical and sexual teen dating violence range between 7% and 19% and that the rate of psychological dating violence could be as high as 65%, according to a literature review by the Department of Justice. These rates vary by gender and sexual orientation and can be affected by several other factors, such as the age gap between partners, alcohol and drug use, and community attitudes toward violence.
Teens who experience dating violence are more vulnerable to dating violence and IPV as adults. Taking action to prevent dating violence is essential not only to protect and enhance the well-being of youth but also to prevent IPV later in life.
How To Know If It’s Dating Violence
Dating violence prevention organization Love Is Respect says that while it can be hard to tell when behavior goes from healthy to unhealthy, the following behaviors can be seen as warning signs of dating abuse:
- Checking a partner’s phone, email or social media accounts without permission.
- Putting a partner down frequently, especially in front of others.
- Isolating a partner from friends or family (physically, financially, or emotionally).
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity.
- Explosive outbursts, temper, or mood swings.
- Any form of physical harm.
- Possessiveness or controlling behavior.
- Pressuring or forcing a partner to have sex.
How To Address Teen Dating Violence
Addressing teen dating violence, like any other form of violence, requires both individual-level and systems-level responses.
At the individual level, the starting point is supportive, nonjudgmental conversations with teens who may be experiencing dating violence. This can be difficult but there are resources to support you, whether you’re a parent, a friend, a family member, or an educator! Visit https://www.loveisrespect.org/supporting-others-dating-abuse/ to learn more.
At the systems level, we need prevention efforts that teach safe and healthy relationship skills, engage influential adults and peers, disrupt developmental pathways toward partner violence, create protective environments, strengthen economic supports for families, and support survivors, according to the CDC. These prevention efforts would help develop protective factors, or influences that guard against the experience of negative outcomes, at the individual, peer, family, and community levels that would help reduce and prevent dating violence.
Learn More About Dating Violence and Ways to Address It
Get Help: For Youth and Those Supporting Youth
Research, Data, and Systems Response
- CDC Fast Facts: Preventing Teen Dating Violence
- Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Teen Dating Violence Literature Review
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