Teen Dating Violence is More Than Physical Abuse

Image of two young women embracing

Teens may think some behaviors like repeated texting and teasing are a normal part of a relationship, but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence.

Teen dating violence (TDV), or “dating violence”, affects millions of teens in the U.S. each year. It occurs between two people in a close relationship and includes:

  • Physical violence, like hitting, kicking, or pushing
  • Sexual violence, such as forcing a partner to take part in a sex act
  • Psychological abuse, like name-calling, insulting, threatening
  • Stalking, such as repeatedly making unwanted or threatening phone calls or messages, showing up unwanted

TDV can happen in person or electronically including repeated texting or posting sexual pictures of a partner online without their permission.

Unhealthy or violent relationships can have severe short and long-term effects on a developing teen. For example, youth who are victims of TDV are more likely to:

  • Experience depression and anxiety symptoms
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
  • Think about suicide
How to Prevent Teen Dating Violence
African mother and daughter chatting spending free time at home

Supporting healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationship development can help reduce TDV and prevent its harmful effects. During the pre-teen and teen years, youth can begin learning the necessary skills to create and maintain healthy relationships, including how to manage feelings and communicate in a healthy way.

CDC developed Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships to stop teen dating violence before it starts. It teaches 11- to 14-year-olds healthy relationship skills and includes sections for kids, parents, schools, and neighborhoods.

CDC also developed Essentials for Parenting Teens, a free online resource for parents and caregivers of youth between the ages of 11 and 17. CDC reviewed extensive research to identify the best approaches to parenting teens and talked to the experts—both recognized leaders in the parenting field and parents themselves—to create articles, videos, and activities parents and caregivers can use. Topics covered in Essentials for Parenting Teens include:

  • understanding and adapting to the teen years
  • coaching teens to recognize and manage emotions
  • encouraging teen independence
  • praising your teen

Visit the Dating Matters and Essentials for Parenting Teens resources for more information.

Teen Dating Violence Prevention Resources

Division of Adolescent and School Health (DASH)
CDC’s DASH works to promote environments where youth can gain fundamental health knowledge and skills, establish healthy behaviors for a lifetime, and connect to health services.

Teen Dating Violence Infographic
The infographic highlights the importance of healthy relationships throughout life.

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