- Take Action
- What's Happening
Dating abuse is a big problem, affecting youth in every community across the nation. Learn the facts below.
- 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
- 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
Dating Violence and the Law
- Eight states currently do not include dating relationships in their definition of domestic violence. As a result, youth victims of dating violence cannot apply for restraining orders.17
- New Hampshire is the only state where the law specifically allows a minor of any age to apply for a protection order; more than half of states do not specify the minimum age of a petitioner.18
- Currently only one juvenile domestic violence court in the country focuses exclusively on teen dating violence.19
Lack of Awareness
- Only 33% of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.20
- Eighty one percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.21
- 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.22
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Physical Dating Violence Among High School Students—United States, 2003,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 19, 2006, Vol. 55, No. 19.
2 Davis, Antoinette, MPH. 2008. Interpersonal and Physical Dating Violence among Teens. The National Council on Crime and Delinquency Focus. Available at http://www.nccd-crc.org/nccd/pubs/2008_focus_teen_dating_violence.pdf.
3 Grunbaum JA, Kann L, Kinchen S, et al. 2004. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2003. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. 53(SS02); 1-96. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5302a1.htm.
4 Schoen, C. et al., The Commonwealth Fund Survey for the Health of Adolescent Girls, November 1997.
5 Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice and Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, 1993-2004. Dec. 2006.
6 Callie Marie Rennison, Ph.D., Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Intimate Partner Violence and Age of Victim, 1993-99” (2001). Available at: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/ipva99.pdf
7 Rosado, Lourdes, The Pathways to Youth Violence; How Child Maltreatment and Other Risk Factors Lead Children to Chronically Aggressive Behavior. 2000. American Bar Association Juvenile Justice Center.
8 S.L. Feld & M.A. Strauss, Criminology, 27, 141-161, (1989).
9 Foshee VA, Linder GF, Bauman KE, et al. The Safe Dates Project: theoretical basis, evaluation design, and selected baseline findings. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 1996; 12(2):39-47.
10 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” Available at: https://www.breakthecycle.org/surveys.
11 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” Available at: https://www.breakthecycle.org/surveys.
12 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” Available at: https://www.breakthecycle.org/surveys.
13 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks, (December 2010). “College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” Available at: https://www.breakthecycle.org/surveys.
14 Jay G. Silverman, PhD; Anita Raj, PhD; Lorelei A. Mucci, MPH; Jeanne E. Hathaway, MD, MPH, “Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality” JAMA. 2001;286(5):572-579. doi:10.1001/jama.286.5.572
15 Decker M, Silverman J, Raj A. 2005. Dating Violence and Sexually Transmitted Disease/HIV Testing and Diagnosis Among Adolescent Females. Pediatrics. 116: 272-276.
16 D. M. Ackard, Minneapolis, MN, and D. Neumark-Sztainer, Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, Date Violence and Date Rape Among Adolescents: Associations with Disordered Eating Behaviors and Psychological Health, Child Abuse & Neglect, 26 455-473, (2002).
17 Break the Cycle 2009 State-by-State Teen Dating Violence Report Cards. Available at www.breakthecycle.org/resources-state-law-report-cards-2009.html.
18 Break the Cycle 2009 State-by-State Teen Dating Violence Report Cards. Available at www.breakthecycle.org/resources-state-law-report-cards-2009.html.
19 I. Sagatun-Edwards, E. Hyman, et al. The Santa Clara County Juvenile Domestic and Family Violence Court, Journal of the Center for Families, Children & the Courts. 2003.
20 Liz Claiborne Inc., conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, (February 2005).
21 “Women’s Health,” June/July 2004, Family Violence Prevention Fund and Advocates for Youth, http://www.med.umich.edu/whp/newsletters/summer04/p03-dating.html.
22 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Teen Research Unlimited, (May 2009). “Troubled Economy Linked to High Levels of Teen Dating Violence & Abuse Survey 2009,” Available at: https://www.breakthecycle.org/surveys.