The Facts


Violence rarely happens in teenage dating relationships.

Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. An estimated 25 percent to 35 percent of adolescent abusers report that their violence served to intimidate, frighten or force another person to give them something.

Dating violence happens mostly to females.

Young women between the ages of 16 to 24 are the most vulnerable to intimate partner violence. Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Violence against women occurs in 20 percent of dating relationships.

Using alcohol or drugs is a cause of dating violence.

Alcohol or other drugs are typically an excuse used to justify violence. The cause of violence is the abuser making the choice to engage in this behavior. Substance abuse and dating violence are separate issues that should be addressed separately.

Dating violence happens mostly to teenagers who provoke it.

Abusers make decisions about when they will abuse, how frequently they'll abuse, what the severity will be and where the abuse will take place. This decision making process has nothing to do with the victim's demeanor or behavior.

Girls who stay in abusive relationships have no one to blame but themselves.

The abuser is the person responsible for the abuse and for instilling fear in the teem victim. It is difficult for teens to leave abusive relationships for various reasons. Fear of the abuser's threats is usually the first reason, but lack of social support or fear that nothing will happen to the abuser also are reasons. To end abuse in teen relationships, abusers must be (1) held accountable for their behavior and (2) possess a willingness to change.

Dating violence is only physical violence.

Dating violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses to gain or maintain power in the relationship. The abuser behaves in ways that cause fear, degradation and humiliation as a form of control. Other forms of abuse are physical, sexual, emotional and psychological.

If the police are called when dating violence is committed, the victim has to press charges for an arrest to occur.

If the police believe an assault has occurred based on statements, witnesses, the demeanor of one or both parties or any property destruction, they can make a warrantless arrest of the abuser. The victim does not press charges against the abuser. The prosecutor, not the victim, has sole responsibility for deciding whether or not to press charges against the abuser.


Teenagers frequently will tell someone about dating violence when it happens to them.

If teenagers disclose to anyone, it's likely to be a friend or peer. Teenagers usually are reluctant to disclose abuse because:

  • Resources may be unavailable to teens without parental involvement.

  • They may not trust adults.

  • They may fear losing autonomy or independence.

  • They may fear getting into trouble if they were doing something illegal like smoking pot, being at a rave party or drinking alcohol when the abuse occurred.

  • They may fear abuser retaliation.

  • They may fear not being believed.

  • They may believe they can stop the abuse.

  • They may fear parental response/reaction.

  • They may feel that even if they are believed, there will be a stigma attached to being a victim.

  • They may fear being "outed" if they are in a same-sex relationship.