Teen Dating ViolenceWhat does an abusive relationship look like? The immediate scenario that pops into your head is likely not a teen or pre-teen couple. But unfortunately, teen dating violence is reality for 1.5 million high school students across the US every year who experience some form of dating violence from a boyfriend or girlfriend. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 are at greatest risk of becoming teen dating abuse victims.

Dating violence is defined as a pattern of controlling or abusive behaviors perpetrated by a current or former dating partner. Abusers can be male or female, and experts are seeing these patterns of behavior in younger and younger students as pre-teens and elementary students engage in dating relationships before developing healthy relationship skills and boundaries. Abuse occurs in-person as well as through cyberbullying and cyber-control. Statistics show that 72% of students in 8th and 9th grades are in dating relationships.

Teens use abuse to manipulate and control the other person in the relationship through behaviors ranging from intimidation to severe physical and sexual abuse. When unchecked, abusive behaviors typically escalate as an abuser gets older, making it essential for teens to get help at the first sign of abuse.

Just Say YES speakers are dedicated to reducing these numbers through presenting ways of effectively addressing boundaries in dating, refusal skills, and establishing a positive circle of friends. Friends and trusted adults can help students recognize unhealthy relationships and empower them to establish healthy boundaries. Book one of our speakers to give a teen dating violence program at your school.

What does Teen Dating Violence Look Like?

A pattern of put-downs, name-calling, yelling, or threats leveled against a dating partner. Abusers use words to gain power and control over their victim, often damaging their partner’s self-esteem and emotional health.

Encouraging or demanding that a partner neglect relationships with friends and family. The abuser typically shows jealousy of other relationships and monopolizes the victim’s time so that they can’t engage in healthy relationships with others. They usually keep track of all of the victim’s actions and conversations. Young teens often do not realize that this kind of control is abusive. They feel flattered that the abuser wants them all to himself and don’t realize until later the psychological damage inflicted by this behavior. It’s usually necessary for friends or family to point out to the victim that the relationship is not healthy.

Manipulation of a victim through fear. This can come through aggressive behavior, such as punching a wall, or maintaining a threatening proximity to the victim. Physical abuse can be an implied threat, but hasn’t occurred yet. The abuser may also threaten to harm himself or others as a coercion technique.

Physical harm caused to a victim’s person or property. This includes hitting, slapping, shoving, kicking, hair pulling, biting, throwing things, choking, and any use of a weapon against a victim.

Any sexual contact that is not 100% consensual, including any type of pressure or coercion that leads to sexual activity, oral sex, touching or kissing that is unwanted by the victim. This also includes sexual contact with a partner who is intoxicated or drugged and unable to give clear and informed consent.

The use of any technology to control, pressure, or threaten a dating partner. This includes hacking a partner’s email account or going through their phone to keep track of who they’re talking to, harassing or threatening via social media, pressuring a girlfriend or sext, or sending repeated and unwanted calls or text messages.

Read our article “It’s a teen issue” to learn more about what Teen Dating Violence looks like.

Teen Dating Violence statistics

Teen Dating Violence

  • 1 in every 5 high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner – Journal of the American Medical Association
  • 1 in every 5 students between the ages of 11 and 14 say their friends are victims of dating violence, with nearly half experiencing verbal abuse – Futures Without Violence
  • 1 in 3 teen girls is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner -  Futures Without Violence
  • 43% of reported cases of dating violence occurred in a school building or on school grounds – Day One
  • 50% of 14-24-year-olds have experienced digital dating abuse - Day One
  • 2 out of 3 teens in abusive relationships do not tell anyone about the abuse - Day One
  • Among adult victims of rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a dating partner, 22.4% of women and 15% of men first experience some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age – CDC
  • Victims of digital abuse are twice as likely to be physically abused, 2.5 times as likely to be psychologically abused, and 5 times as likely to be sexually coerced - Urban Institute
  • Teaching young people about healthy relationships and ways to avoid physical dating violence can reduce physical and sexual dating violence by 60% - Day One

What does Teen Dating Violence Look Like?

Verbal abuse
A pattern of put-downs, name-calling, yelling, or threats leveled against a dating partner. Abusers use words to gain power and control over their victim, often damaging their partner’s self-esteem and emotional health.
Isolation/monitoring
Encouraging or demanding that a partner neglect relationships with friends and family. The abuser typically shows jealousy of other relationships and monopolizes the victim’s time so that they can’t engage in healthy relationships with others. They usually keep track of all of the victim’s actions and conversations. Young teens often do not realize that this kind of control is abusive. They feel flattered that the abuser wants them all to himself and don’t realize until later the psychological damage inflicted by this behavior. It’s usually necessary for friends or family to point out to the victim that the relationship is not healthy.
Intimidation
Manipulation of a victim through fear. This can come through aggressive behavior, such as punching a wall, or maintaining a threatening proximity to the victim. Physical abuse can be an implied threat, but hasn’t occurred yet. The abuser may also threaten to harm himself or others as a coercion technique.
Physical abuse
Physical harm caused to a victim’s person or property. This includes hitting, slapping, shoving, kicking, hair pulling, biting, throwing things, choking, and any use of a weapon against a victim.
Sexual abuse
Any sexual contact that is not 100% consensual, including any type of pressure or coercion that leads to sexual activity, oral sex, touching or kissing that is unwanted by the victim. This also includes sexual contact with a partner who is intoxicated or drugged and unable to give clear and informed consent.
Digital abuse/Cyberbullying
The use of any technology to control, pressure, or threaten a dating partner. This includes hacking a partner’s email account or going through their phone to keep track of who they’re talking to, harassing or threatening via social media, pressuring a girlfriend or sext, or sending repeated and unwanted calls or text messages.

What we do

Just Say YES provides programs that not only present the dangerous facts about teen dating violence, but take one step further to equip students to make better decisions. Our positive approach to prevention gives students the knowledge and awareness to avoid or seek help for dating violence. Just Say YES speakers connect with middle and high school students through their own personal stories, the latest research and practical, relevant steps to get help. Contact us to have a Program Coordinator work with you to schedule a teen dating violence program for your school.