Dating Violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health problem that is disturbingly common among adolescents and young adults ages 10 to 24. In fact, it is by far the most prevalent type of youth violence, and it impacts our nation's youth regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic class, or sexual orientation. Approximately 1 in 3 teens in the U.S. is a victim of teen dating violence, which involves physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. Stalking is also a common type of teen dating violence and is often committed by intimate partners or acquaintances. 

Facts and Statistics About Teen Dating Violence in the United States

Every year, nearly 1.5 million high school students are physically abused by their partner.

  • Approximately 13% of 6th to 9th graders in 13 Midwest schools reported being stalked, with equal proportions of boys and girls affected.
  • Those who report experiencing IPV in high school are also likely to experience IPV in their college relationships. 
  • Almost half of surveyed college students from three Northeast schools have experienced at least one form of relationship violence during the course of adolescence as a victim, perpetrator, or both.
  • One in 4 women (22.3%) have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, while 1 in 7 men (14%) have experienced the same.
  • From 2005-2010, 34% of rape and sexual assault victimizations were committed by a former or current intimate partner.
  • Among college students who were sexually assaulted, many assaults occurred while on a date, including 35% of attempted rapes, 22% of threatened rapes, and 12% of completed rapes.
  • 16% of undergraduates attending three Northeast schools experienced stalking during college; approximately 41% of instances were committed by friends/acquaintances, and 14% were committed by intimate partners.

Early exposure to violence can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. For example, adolescent victims are at higher risk for depression, substance abuse, suicide attempts, eating disorders, poor school performance, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and further victimization. Victims of teen dating violence also report higher rates of school absences, antisocial behavior and interpersonal conflict with peers. These toxic outcomes of teen dating violence emphasize the need to stop it before it starts and to intervene when others know about its occurrence.

Risk Factors for Victimization or Perpetration of Teen Dating Violence

There are various factors that can increase the risk for IPV victimization or perpetration among adolescents, with some overlap between both. It’s important to note that although these circumstances or experiences put an individual at higher risk, this does not mean they he or she will experience IPV.  A combination of individual, relational, community, and societal factors can contribute to IPV victimization or perpetration. Some common factors that contribute to victimization include:

  • History of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse
  • Prior injury from a dating partner
  • History of alcohol or drug use by either partner
  • Childhood abuse  
  • Witnessing violence in the home

Factors that can lead to perpetration include:

  • Witnessing violence in the home
  • Having experienced trauma 
  • Knowing friends who were involved in dating violence
  • Engagement in peer violence
  • Using alcohol or drugs
  • Believing that dating violence is acceptable Childhood abuse 

By identifying and understanding these risk factors for teen dating violence, public health practitioners, educators, and families can better identify and assist individuals at risk for IPV.

Read more about how to prevent teen dating violence.

Read key findings and suggestions for parents and teens to promote safe and healthy relationships.

Recommended Resources

Learn More

Watch this webinar for health care providers about teen dating violence: