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Teen Dating Violence

by Dore Frances, IEC, MA, founder of Horizon Family Solutions, LLC

Dating violence is defined by the United States Department of Justice as: "the perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship". This also includes dating between same sex couples, although most statistics have been gathered from heterosexual couples.

Statistics show that one in three teenagers have experienced violence in a dating relationship. In dating violence, one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through some kind of abuse. Dating violence crosses all economic, racial and social lines; most victims are young women who are also at higher risk for serious injury.

Women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate violence -- nearly 20 per 1000 women.

(Bureau of Justice Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence, May 2001)

Young women need a dating safety plan. Teen dating violence often is hidden because teenagers typically:

  • Are inexperienced with dating relationships.
  • Want independence from parents.
  • Have romanticized views of love.
  • Are pressured by peers to have dating relationships.
Teen dating violence is influenced by how teenagers look at themselves and others. Young men may believe:
  • They have the right to "control" their female partners in any way necessary.
  • "Masculinity" is physical aggressiveness
  • They "possess" their partner.
  • They should and can demand intimacy.
  • They may lose respect if they are attentive and supportive toward their girlfriends.
Young women may believe:
  • They are responsible for solving problems in their relationships
  • Their boyfriend's jealousy, possessiveness and even physical abuse, is "romantic."
  • Abuse is "normal" because their friends are also being abused.
  • They think they can "cure" the abusive boyfriend
  • There is no one to ask for help.

Teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship


Teens can choose better relationships when they understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with respect


Early warning signs that your date may eventually become abusive: Extreme jealousy, controlling behavior, quick involvement, mood swings, alcohol and drug use, explosive anger, isolates you from friends and family, uses force during an argument, shows hypersensitivity, blames others for his problems or feelings, verbally abusive, has abused former partners, threatens you with violence.

Common clues that indicate a teenager may be experiencing dating violence:

  • Physical signs of injury
  • Truancy, and or dropping out of school
  • Failing grades
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Use of drugs/alcohol -- where there was no prior use
  • Emotional outburst
  • Isolation from friends and family

Help is available for teenagers!

Remember that no one deserves to be abused or threatened.

Dore Frances, IEC, MA, is an educcational consultant, childs right advocate, parent coach, specializing in working with troubled teens and their families in the United States, Canda, and abroad. See her site at: or contact her by phone at:(541) 312-4422, or email
See our listing on ISER.COM

Disclaimer: Internet Special Education Resources (ISER) provides this information in an effort to help parents find local special education professionals and resources. ISER does not recommend or endorse any particular special education referral source, special educational methodological bias, type of special education professional, or specific special education professional.


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