Parents: What is Teen Dating Violence

An abusive relationship is one where there is a pattern of power and control in which one person tries to gain power by taking someone else’s power away. The key here is a pattern of controlling behaviors, not just one isolated incident, although any incident of physical violence crosses the line to abuse. Dating violence is a dynamic where one person is in control, and the other is in fear. The pattern often escalates in severity and frequency of incidents. Dating violence can happen to any teen of any race, whether rich or poor, gay or straight, Jewish or not.

Teen Dating Violence Statistics

  • One out of every three teens has been a victim of an abusive dating relationship.
  • One out of every 5 teens reports either being bullied or bullying someone else.
  • Four out of five teens report having been sexually harassed (such as unwanted sexual comments or being grabbed or touched on private body parts).
  • One out of every three adults reports some kind of child abuse before their 18th birthday. Young women, ages 16-24, experience the highest rates of relationship violence of any age group.
  • One in three teenagers and one in three adult women report experiencing physical abuse in their romantic relationships.
  • More than one in four teenage girls in a relationship (26%) report enduring repeated verbal abuse.
  • In one year, more than 13% of college women indicated they had been stalked, with 42% of those stalked by a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
  • Acquaintance rape (rape by someone the victim knows) accounts for almost 70% of the sexual assaults reported by adolescents and college age women.
  • 60% of acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in dating relationships.

Warning Signs*

IS YOUR CHILD BEING ABUSED? The answer may be yes if s/he…

  • Has unexplained bruises or other injuries, or the explanations for the injuries don’t make sense
  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or moods
  • Apologizes for partner’s behavior and makes excuses for him/her
  • Gives up treasured hobbies and interests
  • Stops spending time with friends and family and becomes isolated
  • Mentions physically abusive or violent behavior, but then tries to minimize it or laugh it off
  • Makes drastic changes in style of clothing, makeup or weight
  • Loses self-confidence and has unusual difficulty making decisions
  • Begins to receive failing grades or quit school activities
  • Begins using alcohol or drugs
  • Becomes secretive about his/her relationship


  • Behaves extremely possessively and acts jealous, especially of other friendships or relationships
  • Holds his/her feelings in when he/she is upset. Has a difficult time expressing feelings
  • Engages in “surveillance” activities – constant text messaging, instant messaging, calling his/her partner on their cell phone, checking on who s/he is with
  • Loses temper with his/her partner, you or others easily, including punching walls or breaking things
  • Makes demeaning comments or calls his/her partner names, even in front of other people
  • Threatens his/her partner or you
  • Blames others for his/her problems and feelings
  • Has unfounded insecurity about his/her relationship or self
  • Is always with his/her partner and never with their friends

*The presence of any one of these behaviors does not definitively signal abuse, but rather should signal concern and be a catalyst for a conversation with your child. If more than one indicator is present, you may be suspecting abuse and may wish to consult a Shalom Bayit or other domestic/dating violence hotline for further information and assessment.