Teen Dating Violence
Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name-calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence.
Teen Dating Violence is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional aggression within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner. Several different words are used to describe teen dating violence. Below are just a few:
- Relationship abuse
- Intimate partner violence
- Relationship violence
- Dating abuse
- Domestic abuse
- Domestic violence
Teen dating violence is widespread with serious long-term and short-term effects. Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family. The 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey Cdc-pdf[12.1 MB 479 Pages, 508] found that 8 percent of high school students reported physical violence and 7 percent reported that they experienced sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months before the survey.
A CDC Report Cdc-pdf[1.26 MB,32 Pages, 508] found among victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, about 26% of females and nearly 15% of males first experienced some form of violence by that partner before age 18.
As teens develop emotionally, they are heavily influenced by experiences in their relationships. Healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have short- and long-term negative effects on a developing teen. Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to:
- Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
- Exhibit antisocial behaviors
- Think about suicide
Additionally, youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.
Teens receive messages about how to behave in relationships from peers, adults, and the media. All too often these examples suggest that violence in a relationship is normal, but violence is never acceptable.
Violence is related to certain risk factors. The risk of having unhealthy relationships increases for teens who:
- Believe that dating violence is acceptable
- Are depressed, anxious, or have other symptoms of trauma
- Display aggression towards peers or display other aggressive behaviors
- Use drugs or illegal substances
- Engage in early sexual activity and have multiple sexual partners
- Have a friend involved in teen dating violence
- Have conflicts with a partner
- Witness or experience violence in the home
Communicating with your partner, managing uncomfortable emotions like anger and jealousy, and treating others with respect are a few ways to keep relationships healthy and nonviolent. Dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies.
- Preventing Teen Dating Violence Cdc-pdf[550 KB, 2 Pages, 508]
- Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs, Policies, and Practices Cdc-pdf[4.52 MB, 64 Pages, 508]
- A Comprehensive Technical Package for the Prevention of Youth Violence and Associated Risk Behaviors Cdc-pdf[4.09 MB, 64 Pages, 508]
- STOP SV: A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence Cdc-pdf[3 MB, 48 Pages, 508]
- Dating Matters: Understanding Teen Dating Violence Prevention
- Division of Adolescent and School Health
Other Federal Resources
- Office on Violence Against WomenExternal
- Office on Women’s Health: Violence Against Women topics and resourcesExternal
- Office for Victims of CrimeExternal
- National Domestic Violence HotlineExternal
- Love is RespectExternal
- National Sexual Assault HotlineExternal
- National Sexual Assault Online HotlineExternal
- National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women (VAWnet)External
- The National Sexual Violence Resource CenterExternal
- National Resource Center on Domestic Violence External