Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Dating Violence

Dating violence, also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), is a serious public health problem that is disturbingly common among adolescents and young adults ages 10-24. In fact, it is by far the most prevalent type of youth violence. Approximately 1 in 3 teens in the United States is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

Teen Dating Violence Statistics in the U.S.

  • Every year, nearly 1.5 million high school students are physically abused by their partner.
  • 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 (14.0%) have experienced the same.
  • Approximately 71% of female victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner first experienced these or other forms of IPV before age 25; approximately 23% first experienced IPV before age 18.
  • Among adult victims of dating violence, 22% of women and 15% of men reported first experiencing a form of dating violence between the ages of 11 and 17 years.
  • 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.
  • Women who report experiencing IPV in high school are more likely to also experience IPV in their college relationships.
  • In a study of male and female undergraduate students enrolled at urban colleges, almost half of the students reported experience with at least one form of relationship violence as a victim, perpetrator, or both.

Early exposure to teen dating 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 in their teens also report higher rates of school absences, antisocial behavior and interpersonal conflict with peers. These toxic outcomes emphasize the need to stop teen dating violence before it starts and intervene when we know it is occurring.

Know the Risk Factors for Teen Dating Violence Victimization or Perpetration

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, that does not mean they 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:

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

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

Teen Dating Violence Prevention: Read more about how you can help prevent teen dating violence through intervening early with adolescents and raising awareness of its prevalence.

Recommended Reading & Resources

CDC’s Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline – Love is Respect

National Sexual Assault Hotline

National Sexual Assault Online Hotline

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women

Understanding Teen Dating Violence (PDF)

NISVS Infographic