Dating Violence

If you are a victim of dating violence or need help call our hotline
at (800) 688-6157. Our advocates are available 24 hours a day,
7 days a week. Your call is confidential. 

What is Dating Violence?

Dating violence is controlling, abusive and aggressive behavior against a person on a date or a current or former dating partner. It can occur in person or electronically.

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Take Dating Violence Seriously

Teens and young adults may think some behaviors, like teasing and name-calling, are a normal part of romantic relationships. However, these behaviors have the potential to become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence. 

It is important not to minimize the seriousness, or criminal nature of physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual aggression, simply because they occurred within a dating relationship, or on a date. 

About Dating Violence

Anyone can experience dating violence, regardless of their age or phase of life. But unhealthy relationships frequently start early—in teenage and young adult years—and can last a lifetime

The Facts about Dating Violence

Examples of controlling tactics:


An individual might use the following controlling tactics with someone they are dating:

  • Calling or texting them frequently to find out where they are, whom they are with and what they are doing.
  • Telling them what to wear, do or say.
  • Having to be with them all the time.
  • Restricting people with whom they can be around.




Examples of abuse and aggression:


Examples of abuse and aggression an individual might use against persons they are or have dated can be categorized as:

  • Physical—intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, such as hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon.
  • Emotional/psychological—non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking and harassment.
  • Sexual—subjecting others to sexual contact without their consent, and that lack of consent is due to physical force, threat or intimidation. It might also include non-contact offenses that are sexual in nature, such as texting or posting sexual pictures of dating partners online without consent.
  • Another example of controlling and abusive behavior in a dating situation includes a dating partner coercing another into forced labor or commercial sex acts (human trafficking).




Who can experience dating violence?


Anyone can experience dating violence, regardless of their age or phase of life. But unhealthy relationships frequently start early—in teenage and young adult years—and can last a lifetime

Unfortunately, millions of teens and young adults in the U.S. each year become dating violence victims. Data from the Center for Disease Control's Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey indicate the following:
  • Nearly 1 in 9 female teens and approximately 1 in 13 male teens reported having experienced physical dating violence in the year preceding the survey.
  • Over 1 in 7 female teens and nearly 1 in 19 male teens reported having experienced sexual dating violence in the year preceding the survey (Kann et al., 2016).
  • 23% of women and 14% of men who were victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime reported first experiencing these or other forms of violence before age 18.




Is dating violence the same as domestic violence?


In some situations, dating violence is the same as domestic violence.

  • Domestic violence is abusive behavior perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It also may be called intimate partner violence/abuse, or relationship abuse/violence.
  • Dating violence may be a more relatable term for teens and younger people who experience this type of victimization to explain their circumstances than domestic violence. They may associate domestic violence more with couples who are older or in more serious or long-term relationships.
In other situations, dating violence may have different dynamics than domestic violence.
  • For example, teenagers and adults may be abused by someone with whom they are casually dating or dated just a few times or only once. Abusive tactics in these situations may or may not be more subtle than tactics used in established intimate relationships.
  • A date could be a casual encounter of persons who have not yet been intimate. Or they may have been intimate but do not consider themselves in a relationship (e.g., if they hooked up at a party they both attended but had no subsequent contact). The persons involved might not think of their interactions as “a date” or “dating.”
  • Violence committed on a date is often mainly sexual in nature—when that is the case, the dynamics may be more like non-stranger sexual violence than domestic violence.




Why does dating violence occur?


According to the Center for Disease Control, teens and young adults may think some behaviors, like teasing and name-calling, are a normal part of romantic relationships. However, these behaviors have the potential to become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence. Violence is related to certain risk factors, with the risk of having unhealthy relationships increasing for teens who:

  • Believe that dating violence is acceptable.
  • Are depressed, anxious or have other symptoms of trauma.
  • Display aggression towards peers or display other aggressive behaviors.
  • Use drugs or illegal substances.
  • Engage in early sexual activity and have multiple sexual partners.
  • Have a friend involved in teen dating violence.
  • Have conflicts with a partner.
  • Witness or experience violence in the home.




Dating violence can have significant consequences:


Teen and young adult dating violence can set the stage for problems in future relationships, including intimate partner violence and sexual violence perpetration and/or victimization throughout life. Statistics show victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for physical and/or sexual victimization during college. Youth who are victims of dating violence are more likely to:

  • Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs and alcohol.
  • Exhibit antisocial behaviors, like lying, theft, bullying or hitting.
  • Think about suicide.





​​​Source Data: 

Center for Disease Control : Preventing Teen Dating Violence

West Virginia Foundation for  Rape Information and Services: www.fris.org

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Are you or someone you love a victim of dating violence? 

C
all our hotline, (800) 688-6157.
 Our advocates are available 24 hours a day,
7 days a week. 
Your call is confidential. 
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