Dating Violence

Signs of Dating Violence

Dating violence is all too common. Statistics show that 1 in 3 teenagers have experienced or will experience violence in a dating relationship. In dating violence, one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse. Dating violence crosses all racial, economic and social lines. Most victims are young women, who are also at greater risk for serious injury. Young women need a dating safety plan.

Warning Signs
  • Physical signs of injury such as bruises, scratches or other injuries
  • Avoids friends/isolating behaviors
  • Behaves differently around his/her boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Excessive text messaging or calling from dating partner
  • Makes excuses or apologizes for his/her boyfriend/girlfriend’s behavior
  • Dating partner monitors calls and emails
  • Dating partner makes frequent accusations of “cheating” or flirting
  • A dating partner who makes threats of suicide or self-injury in the event of a breakup

Teen Dating Violence

Dating abuse is a big problem, affecting youth in every community across the nation. Learn the facts below.

Too Common
  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. (1)
  • One in three girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence. (2)
  • One in ten high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. (3)
  • One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse or date rape. (4)
Why Focus on Teens?
  • Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, almost triple the national average. (5)
  • Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94% of those age 16-19 and 70% of those age 20-24 were victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend. (6)
  • Violent behavior often begins between the ages of 12 and 18. (7)
  • The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence. (8)
  • About 72% of eighth and ninth graders are ‘dating.’ (9)
Don’t Forget About College Students
  • Nearly half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors. (10)
  • College students are not equipped to deal with dating abuse – 57% say it is difficult to identify and 58% say they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it. (11)
  • One in three (36%) dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, email or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse. (12)
  • One in six (16%) college women has been sexually abused in a dating relationship. (13)
Long-lasting Effects
  • Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence. (14)
  • Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get a STD. (15)
  • Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide, compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys. (16)
Lack of Awareness
  • Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse. (17)
    Eighty one percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue. (18)
  • Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse. (19)

What Do I Do Now?

See our Resources page for more helpful websites and information on dating violence.

  • Dating Safety
    Dating Safety

    If you are a teenager involved in an abusive relationship, you need to remember that no one deserves to be abused or threatened. Remember you cannot change your batterer, and in time the violence will get worse. You need to take care of yourself. Talk to a trusted adult or locate a shelter or agency serving victims of domestic abuse in your community. Together, you can talk about making a plan to end the relationship and remain safe.

    Call the AWARE’s 24-hour Crisis Hotline, (517)783-2861. Help is available 24-hours a day, 7 days a week.

    • Consider double-dating the first few times you go out with a new person.
    • Before leaving on a date, know the exact plans for the evening and make sure a parent or friend knows these plans and what time to expect you home. Let your date know that you are expected to call or tell that person when you get in.
    • Be aware of your decreased ability to react under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
    • If you leave a party with someone you do not know well, make sure you tell another person you are leaving and with whom. Ask a friend to call and make sure you arrived home safely.
    • Assert yourself when necessary. Be firm and straightforward in your relationships.
    • Trust your instincts. If a situation makes you uncomfortable, try to be calm and think of a way to remove yourself from the situation.
  • Safety Planning for Teens/Young Adults
    Safety Planning for Teens/Young Adults

    You should think ahead about ways to be safe if you are in a dangerous or potentially dangerous relationship. Here are some things to consider in designing your own safety plan.

    • What adults can you tell about the violence and abuse?
    • What people at school can you tell in order to be safe–teachers, principal, counselors, security?
    • Consider changing your school locker or lock.
    • Consider changing your route to/from school.
    • Use a buddy system for going to school, classes and after school activities.
    • What friends can you tell to help you remain safe?
    • If stranded, who could you call for a ride home?
    • Keep a journal describing the abuse.
    • Get rid of or change the number to any beepers, pagers or cell phones the abuser gave you.
    • Keep spare change, calling cards, number of the local shelter ((517) 783-2861), number of someone who could help you and restraining orders with you at all times.
    • Where could you go quickly to get away from an abusive person?
    • What other things can you do?
  • Tips for Adults Who Care
    Tips for Adults Who Care

    If you suspect that your teenager is already involved with an abusive partner, ask. Give your teenager a chance to talk. Listen quietly to the whole story. Tell your teenager you are there to help — not to judge. If your teenager does not want to talk with you, help your teenager find another trusted person to talk with. Focus on your child and do not put down the abusive partner. Point out how unhappy your teenager seems to be while with this person. Take whatever safety measures are necessary, including calling AWARE at (517) 783-2861.

    Reasons Teens Hide Dating Violence
    • Inexperience with dating relationships
    • Pressure by peers to act violently
    • Independence from parents
    • “Romantic” views of love
    Young Men May Believe
    • They have the right to “control” their female partners in any way necessary
    • “Masculinity” is physical aggressiveness
    • They “possess” their partner
    • They should demand intimacy
    • They may lose respect if they are attentive and supportive toward their girlfriends
    Young Women May Believe
    • They are responsible for solving problems in their relationships
    • Their boyfriend’s jealousy, possessiveness and even physical abuse, is “romantic” or shows he cares
    • Abuse is “normal” because their friends or family members are also being abused
    • There is no one to ask for help

    Teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with respect.

    What You Can Say to Your Teen
    • “I care about what happens to you. I love you and I want to help.”
    • “If you feel afraid, it may be abuse. Sometimes people behave in ways that are scary and make you feel threatened — even without using physical violence. Pay attention to your gut feelings.”
    • “The abuse is not your fault. You are not to blame, no matter how guilty the person doing this to you is trying to make you feel. Your partner should not be doing this to you.”
    • “It is the abuser who has a problem, not you. It is not your responsibility to help this person change.”
    • “It is important to talk about this. Many people who have been victims of dating violence have been able to change their lives after they began talking to others. If you don’t want to talk with me, find someone you trust and talk with that person.”