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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

Teen dating violence, also called intimate partner violence or intimate relationship violence, is more common than many people realize. Statistics show that:

In 2013, President Barack Obama issued a Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month Proclamation, calling on all Americans to “to stand against dating violence when we see it.” Here is what you need to know about this important issue, ways to spot and prevent teen dating violence, and what to do if you or someone you know needs help. 

The Impact of Teen Dating Violence

Healthy relationships have a positive impact on emotional growth and future relationships. Abusive relationships have the opposite effect. Violence in adolescent relationships sets the stage for future relationship problems, including intimate partner violence and sexual violence. It is common for victims to be revictimized in future relationships, or for victims to become the perpetrators themselves.

Adolescents who experience violence in their teens are more likely to carry these harmful behaviors into their adult relationships. In fact, children who are victims or witnesses of violence often carry this violence with them from the playground, into the classroom, into teen relationships, and, eventually, into adult intimate relationships.


Girls are more likely to experience violence in their relationships, and they are more likely to have long-term adverse outcomes such as:

  • Poor health and mental health

  • Suicidal ideation

  • Eating disorders

  • Antisocial behaviors

  • Increased high-risk behaviors, such as alcohol and drug use

Studies also show that there is a link between teen dating violence and academic achievement. The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence reports that victims of teen dating violence are more likely to have lower academic achievement and higher rates of truancy and dropouts.

Forms of Teen Dating Violence

Teen dating violence does not always happen between two people behind closed doors. It can take place in one-on-one settings, in groups, during school, in public, or online. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen dating violence can be grouped into the following four types of behavior:

  • Physical violence is when physical harm is inflicted or intended, including hitting, slapping, kicking, or the use of another type of physical force.

  • Sexual violence is the act of forcing or attempting to force an unwanted sexual contact without the consent of the partner

  • Psychological aggression is the use of verbal or non-verbal communication to mentally or emotionally control or intimidate a partner.

  • Stalking or harassment is the repeated, unwanted attention, contact, or harassment by a partner, leading to fear of one’s safety. This can include cyber-stalking.

Warning Signs 

Relationship behaviors occur on a spectrum, so it can be difficult to tell whether you or someone you love is involved in a violent, abusive relationship. Many times, the perpetrator will exhibit a pattern of coercive, manipulative, or intimidating behaviors. Warning signs that a partner may be at risk of teen dating violence include if one partner is:

  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission

  • Giving constant verbal put-downs

  • Exhibiting extreme jealousy, insecurity, or possessiveness

  • Has explosive temper

  • Isolating you from family or friends

  • Making false accusations

  • Has mood swings

  • Is physically hurting you in any way

  • Telling you what to do

  • Pressuring you or forcing you to have sex

  • Wants to know your whereabouts at every minute of the day

As a parent, teacher, counselor, or friend of someone who may be in an abusive relationship, it is equally as important to be aware of these signs. 

What To Do If You Need Help

If you are a teenager and you believe you may be involved in a violent or abusive relationship, please know there are many resources available that can help you:

  • Talk to an adult that you trust. Let a trusted adult in your life know what is going on. This can be a family member, such as a parent, or a mentor, school counselor, social worker, therapist, or school administrator.

  • Have a safety plan in place. This can include what to do if you feel like you are unsafe or that your life is being threatened, such as calling exiting an unsafe situation, calling a trusted adult, or calling 9-1-1.

  • Contact online domestic violence support services. Connect 24/7 with trained peer advocates by calling the helpline at 866-331-9474, texting LOVEIS to 22522, or using their online chat services.

Talking to Teens

As a parent, you are the most important resource and advisor when it comes to healthy and unhealthy relationships. A study from the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that the quality of the parent-child relationship during early adolescence was a significant predictor of adolescent dating violence victimization and perpetration.

It is important to always remind your teen that they deserve a violent-free relationship, no matter their age, and that abuse of any kind is never appropriate and never their fault. Some helpful ways that you can talk to teens about healthy relationships include:

  • Encourage honest, open, and reflective communication.

  • Be sensitive and respectful.

  • Understand teen development.

  • Understand the pressures that teens’ face.

  • Make the most of teachable moments.

  • Model healthy relationships in your own home.

  • Take a clear stand against abuse or violence.

Together, we can all help break the cycle of teen dating violence in our homes, schools, and communities.

Click below to download our Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month resource. English and Spanish version available!

TDV Awareness Flyer By SEWI (Eng&Esp)
Download PDF • 353KB


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