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Dating Violence

Young teen girl experiencing dating violence

Dating violence is a pattern of behavior in an intimate relationship that includes physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse to exert power or control over another. This abuse can take place in person or electronically. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teens often think some behaviors like teasing and name-calling are normal, but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence.

  • According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1 in 11 female teens and 1 in 15 male teens report experiencing physical dating violence in the past year.1
  • And 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students reported experiencing sexual dating violence.2
  • 1 in 3 teens reports knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, or physically hurt by a partner. 3
  • Both females and males can be victims of dating violence, but the reality is that most victims are female (usually over 95%). 4

When students are being hurt by a romantic partner, they rarely seek the help of an adult. Most often, if the student chooses to tell anyone, it would be a friend or peer. That is why it is important to know the warning signs. If you see any of these in a friend's relationship, have the courage to speak up and get help from a trusted adult.

  • Excessive jealousy or insecurity
  • Checking someone's cell phone, social media, or email without permission
  • Constantly putting someone down
  • Explosive temper ("blows up" a lot)
  • Intimidation (uses looks, gestures, and physical presence to inflict fear)
  • Isolating someone from their family or friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling someone what to do
  • Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
  • Refusing to let the relationship end

It's impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, so if a friend tells you they are abused, believe what they say. Remember it takes courage to say something; so take it seriously.

Ending an unhealthy relationship-especially an unsafe one is not easy. It is common for victims of teen dating violence (or any violence) to feel they have done something wrong. Victims may feel isolated, fearful, and/or responsible for the abuse.

Each one of us has an inner wisdom and understanding that we're born with. If something deep inside of you says something you see or something you're experiencing is not right, there is a reason you are feeling that way. Listen to your inner voice and say something.

You can talk to a teacher, school administrator, counselor, school resource officer, parent, family member, or a trusted adult. They have the experience and knowledge to help. If a trusted adult is unavailable or you are not comfortable calling 911, use OK2SAY.



[1] CDC - Preventing Teen Dating Violence. 2020

[2] CDC - Preventing Teen Dating Violence. 2020

[3] Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.

[4] Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Treatment Board - Teen Dating Violence