For Teens Only

Dispelling Myths About Teen Dating Violence

  • Jealousy and possessiveness are not a sign of love, they are tools used by a partner to take control.
  • Drugs and alcohol are not the cause of abuse in relationships. However, drugs and alcohol can increase the danger and level of injury in an abusive relationship.
  • It is not the victim's fault that he/she is being abused. The abusive partner may try to make the victim responsible for the abuse.
  • People stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. However, staying does not mean that the abuse is no big deal. There is no such thing as justifiable abuse.
  • People who abuse others are not the scary bums or crazy people we sometimes imagine that they are. They are everyday people without any real outward signs that might tip us off to their behaviors. They are rich or poor, educated or drop outs, professional or unemployed and are people of all races. They live in cities and in the country and they look like you and me.

Fact Sheet on Dating Violence

Violence in teen dating relationship is not a rare event.

  • Abuse in teen relationships is not a rare occurrence. 28% of teen relationships involve violence.
  • One in ten teenagers will experience some form of physical abuse in their dating relationships.
  • Data from a study of 8th and 9th graders indicated that 25% had been victims of non-sexual dating violence and 8% had been victims of sexual dating violence.
  • The average rate for dating violence is 22% among male and female high school students and 32% among college students.
  • Some studies suggest that both males and females inflict and receive dating violence in equal proportion, but the motivation for violence by women is more often for defensive purposes. Other studies show that females are victimized at twice the rate as males and suffer significantly more injuries.

Teen Dating Violence

Abusive teen relationships are similar to adult domestic violence because:

  • Abusive behavior is used to exert power and control over another person
  • Abusive behavior ranges from name calling and put downs to physical assault, murder and rape.
  • It effects people from all socio-economic, racial and ethnic groups
  • Repeated violence escalates the longer the relationship continues
  • Abusive behavior is interchanged with apologies and promises to change
  • Danger increases for the victim when trying to terminate the relationship
  • Abuse also occurs in lesbian and gay relationships

Due to adolescent development, abuse in teen relationships can have additional effects as compared to adult domestic abuse.

  • Teens lack experience with intimate relationships and therefore have a difficult time defining abuse as problematic
  • Young people may perceive jealousy and controlling behavior as loving devotion
  • Teens are reluctant to seek help from adults due to:
      » fear that newly won privileges of independence will be taken away
      » fear that they will be seen as having done something wrong

Typically the teen victim is isolated from his/her peers because of the controlling behavior of his/her partner. The following developmental tasks are often interrupted because of this isolation:

  • Achieving new and mature relationships with peers of both sexes;
  • Social role achievement;
  • Emotional independence;
  • The ability to develop personal values and beliefs;
  • Academic progress.

Further Reading: