Understanding Teen Dating Violence
Teen dating violence (TDV)— also called intimate relationship violence or intimate partner violence among adolescents or adolescent relationship abuse — includes physical, psychological or sexual abuse; harassment; or stalking of any person ages 12 to 18 in the context of a past or present romantic or consensual relationship. TDV, like relationship abuse in adulthood, impacts adolescents from all races, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
TDV has often been under estimated and under reported. The National Institute of Justice estimates that 69%, or 2/3 of teens who had been in a relationship in the last year, had been victimized. The most common form of abuse was verbal and/or emotional abuse, but there were substantial rates of physical abuse (18%) and sexual abuse (18%). Despite this prevalence, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence reports that 3 in 4 parents have never discussed dating or domestic violence with their child.
In most cases of TDV, violence is used to get another to do what he/she wants, to gain power and control, to cause humiliation and to promote fear, and to retaliate against a partner (Foshee & Langwick, 2010). In this way, TDV is similar to adult relationship violence but there are also some notable differences in dynamics between TDV and adult DV. An article published by the National Institute of Justice discusses current research on TDV and concludes that there are three key differences between adult and teen dating relationships:
Others have added the greater use of digital and social media as a primary method of control and emotional abuse in TDV.
The Impact of Teen Dating Violence
As teens develop emotionally, they are heavily influenced by experiences in their relationships. Healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have short- and long-term negative effects on a developing teen. Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to:
Additionally, youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college and adulthood.