Teen Dating Violence: What To Look for and How To Address It With Teens

Teen dating has become the subject of much conversation and debate over the last several decades. For example, what is the most appropriate age for a teenager to date? How much time should a young person be permitted to spend with their significant other? Should all time be chaperoned? Parents and youth experts have considered these questions for decades, and parents and guardians can discover helpful commentary from several online sources. There is one conversation, however, that has grown in popularity in recent years: teen dating violence. 

What are the signs of teen dating violence? Can teen dating violence be prevented? Could my teenager be suffering from the effects of an abusive relationship? We’ve done our best to tackle these questions below. Read on to discover more about this sensitive issue.

What is Teen Dating Violence?

The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) states that teen dating violence is is an adverse childhood experience that affects millions of adolescents and teens right here in the United States. It can occur in person, online, or via technology.

This type of violence is called intimate partner violence, and it is often associated with many threatening and abusive behaviors. Teen dating violence significantly increases the risk of negatively impacting the affected’s lifelong health, opportunity, and well-being. 

Unhealthy relationships have the potential to start early and last a lifetime. However, violent relationships can often be prevented, and with the proper training, early signs of violence can be detected to help young people grow up in a safe environment.

The Problem Exists

Some may consider the issue “overblown.” After all, isn’t teasing, hazing, and picking all part of being a teenager? Some even consider certain intimidating behavioral acts “normal” in a relationship. 

Research indicates that these forms of behavior can quickly become abusive and physically violent in severe cases. Yet, sadly, many teens refuse to report their abuse because they’re afraid to admit anything. 

Teen Dating Violence is Common

Sadly, teen dating violence is all-too common. According to data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 

  • Nearly 1 in 11 female and approximately 1 in 14 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year.
  • About 1 in 8 female and 1 in 26 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year.
  • 26% of women and 15% of men who were victims of sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their life first experienced these or other forms of violence by that partner before age 18.

What Are the Behavioral Traits of Teen Dating Violence?

It’s essential that parents and guardians are aware of the behavioral traits of teen dating violence in order to recognize it. The list below is not conclusive, but these are some of the most common signs of teen dating violence:

Physical Violence

Physical violence is typically defined as an act of force that involves a person attempting to hurt their partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical leverage.

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is when someone forces or attempts to force their partner to take part in a sexual act, or sexual touching, that the partner is desirous of or cannot consent to. This form of violence can include non-physical sexual behaviors like posting or sharing sexual pictures of a partner without their consent or sexting.

Psychological Aggression

Psychological aggression is commonly referred to as the use of verbal and non-verbal communication “with the intent to harm a partner mentally, emotionally, [or to] exert control over a partner.” 


Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention by a partner, inducing fear for the affected’s safety or the safety of someone close to them, like a family member or friend. 

What Are the Negative Consequences of Teen Dating Violence?

Teens who suffer from teen dating violence are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and develop unhealthy patterns of substance use. The effects can be severe, permanent, and damaging to themselves and those around them. A teen affected by this is also more likely to exhibit antisocial behaviors, like lying or bullying, and may regularly think about suicide. 

What Are Some Prevention Strategies?

Prevention starts with support. According to the CDC, the occurrence of teen dating violence can be reduced by supporting healthy, nonviolent relationships. This support can positively impact children, their families and their communities. 

The next place to start is knowledge. Parents and caregivers need to equip young people during their pre-teen and teen years. The earlier they can learn the skills required to create and maintain healthy relationships, the better. These skills may include managing feelings and communicating them to others in a responsible way.

Seeking Professional Help for Teen Dating Violence | Seneca Health Services 

At Seneca Health Services, we have over 40 years of experience providing behavioral health services throughout southeastern West Virginia. Our staff is experienced in assessing and counseling adolescents, particularly when it comes to violent relationships and/ or substance use disorders.

Your teen doesn’t have to suffer. There is help for them and you. We are here to lend support to you or someone you care for that is suffering from relational violence, addiction, or substance use. If you or someone you know needs help, please do not hesitate to contact the Seneca office nearest you or use the link provided here.  

Greenbrier County, West Virginia: 304.497.0500

Nicholas County, West Virginia: 304.872.2659

Pocahontas County, West Virginia: 304.799.6865

Webster County, West Virginia: 304.847.5425