Teen Dating Violence
What is Teen Dating Violence?
Table of Contents
Teen dating violence (TDV) is a form of intimate partner violence that occurs between two teenagers who are in an intimate relationship. Teen dating violence can occur in multiple forms and can occur in both heterosexual relationships and same-sex relationships. Dating violence can occur in person but also through technology.
Teen dating violence is particularly dangerous because teenagers and young adults are vulnerable and often afraid to tell a parent or a friend what is happening to them. Additionally, when you’re young you have less experience with healthy relationships and can mistake unhealthy behaviors such as teasing and name-calling as normal parts of a relationship when often they are signs of unhealthy behavior.
Teen dating violence typically escalates over time and can be hard for young people to identify. This is especially true for emotionally abusive relationships because psychological abuse doesn’t leave physical marks like physical violence does.
What are the Different Types of Teen Dating Violence?
Gaslighting (gaslighting is a behaviour that makes someone feel like they can’t trust their instincts, judgements and reality, making them question everything they believe and therefore making them dependent on you)
- Refusing to listen to them/their thoughts/feelings
- Telling them that they’re overreacting
- Telling them that they made things up/don’t remember them correctly
- Making them feel guilty about being upset
- Changing the subject
- Convincing them the abusive behaviour isn’t abusive
What Are the Signs That Your Teen May be Experiencing Dating Violence?
Often, teenagers and young adults might have a hard time identifying or accepting that they are victims of dating violence or in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship. Because these individuals do not often report the dating violence that they experience, it can be hard to notice if your child or someone that you know is in an abusive relationship. Some of the signs of abusive relationships and emotional abuse to watch out for in your teen or young adult include:
Contact the Hotline
Developing a Plan
It is also helpful to have a plan in place to stop self harm. This should include a safety plan, which details steps to take if there are feelings to engage in one of the forms of self harm. This may involve calling a trusted friend or family member, contacting a self harm hotline, or engaging in an alternative activity. The safety plan may list alternatives to self harm, which are activities you can do instead of self harm. These activities could include:
What Are the Rates of Teen Dating Violence in the U.S.?
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Other research indicates that at least one in three young adults in the U.S. has been a victim of physical, sexual, or emotional dating violence. Amongst various forms of youth violence, teen dating violence is one of the biggest forms of youth violence.1
What Are the Effects of Young Adult and Teen Dating Violence?
How to Prevent Teen Dating Violence?
Although teenage dating violence has only recently been thought of as a public health concern, it is a significant problem that can have lasting impacts on the many young adults. For this reason, it is extremely important that from a young age, parents, educators and policymakers help to teach children about consent, respect, and how to identify abusive behaviors. The CDC makes the following recommendations for preventing teenage dating violence:
Teach safe and healthy relationship skills
- Social-emotional learning programs for youth
- Programs on healthy relationships taught in schools
- Emphasis on consent
Engage influential adults and peers
- Male figures as allies in the prevention of violence towards women (while dating violence can be instigated be anyone, statistically, men tend to exhibit more dating violence towards women than vice versa)
- Family based programs
- Education for family/friends/bystanders on how to approach dating violence
Rewire developmental pathways against partner violence
- Parenting and family relationship programs
- Treatment for at-risk children and families
- Early childhood developmental programs
Create protective environments
- Have a safe school environment
- Have a safe workplace
- Allow youth to feel comfortable confiding in figures of authority
Support for Survivors
- Victim-centered services
- Treatment and support for survivors of teen dating violence
Tips for When Your Teen Starts Dating
Help Young Adults Recognize the Warning Signs of Abuse
Foster a Healthy and Trusting Relationship with Your Children
Teach Your Children to be Assertive
What is CDC’s Dating Matters Program?
- Dating Matters for 6th Graders
- Dating Matters for 7th Graders
- Safe Dates for 8th Graders
- Healthy and unhealthy behaviors in relationships with family, friends, and romantic partners
- The impact of social media and technology on relationships
- Risk factors for teen dating violence (e.g. substance use, risky sexual behavior, lack of coping skills)
- Parents Matter! for Dating Matters (6th grade)
- Dating Matters for Parents (7th grade)
- Families for Safe Dates (8th grade)
Community Programs & Tools
- i2i: What R U Looking 4? Youth Communications Program
- Dating Matters Capacity Assessment and Planning Tool
- Dating Matters Training for Educators
- Dating Matters Interactive Guide to Informing Policy
- Dating Matters Guide to Using Indicator Data
More Resources for Parents