Teen dating violence often starts as emotional or verbal abuse and can quickly escalate into physical abuse or sexual violence.
Statistics compiled by Love is Respect show that many teens have experienced dating violence and most teens know someone who has been abused by their boyfriend or girlfriend or is in an abusive relationship.
- Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
- One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner ― this figure far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
- One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
- Half of youth who have been victims of dating violence and rape attempt suicide.
- Eighty-one percent of parents believe that teen dating violence is not an issue or admit that they don’t know if it is an issue.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also report:
- 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey. 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey)
- About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age. 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey
If your teen is involved in an abusive relationship
You must give your teen the help, support, and protection she or he needs, such as::
Ask questions and listen with an open mind and heart.
Communicate openly with your teen.
Respect your teen’s feelings.
Be calm and take positive action.
Set limits where appropriate.
Avoid power struggles with your teen.
Help set up a safety plan if your teen is trying to end the relationship.
Deal with your anger and frustration in calm, reasoned, and constructive ways.
Resolve conflicts with your teen early.
Be a role model for your teen on issues such as sobriety, your personal relationship with your spouse and others.
If Your Teen is the Abuser
It is vital that you address this issue in a way that will break the cycle of violence. There are things you can do to help your teen and others recognize the abuse, understand the dynamics behind it, and get help to stop the behavior before it becomes a life-long pattern, such as:
Acknowledge your awareness of controlling and abusive behavior.
Confront your teen’s controlling and abusive behavior.
Communicate your concerns to the parents of your teen’s partner.
Consult with community programs and mental health professionals for ideas.
Accept help and support for your efforts from friends, family, and others in the school, church, and community.
Seek help for your teen through community and mental health programs.
Support your teen’s efforts to stop the pattern of abuse.