February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM).
What is Teen Dating Violence?
Teen Dating Violence(TDV) is a type of intimate partner violence. It occurs between two people in a close relationship (CDC). Anyone can be a victim of abuse. Violence in relationships occurs when one person feels entitled to power and control over their partner and chooses to use abuse to gain and maintain control (NCADV).
Behaviors: The following behaviors are the general behaviors of the aggressor in the relationship. They are not limited to in-person interactions but can also be done through technology (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, email, text, etc.)
- Physical Abuse: when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force that can be less obvious such as pinching and squeezing.
- Sexual Violence: forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent (e.g., sleeping, under the influence, underage).
- Psychological Aggression: use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm or control another person mentally or emotionally.
- Stalking: the pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.
- Nearly 1 in 11 female teens and about 1 in 15 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year.
- About 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year.
- 26% of women and 15% of men who are victims of contact 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.
- The burden of TDV is not shared equally across all groups—sexual minority groups (i.e. transgender and nonbinary youth, gay and lesbian youth, etc.) are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence, and some racial/ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by many types of violence.
LGBTQ+ teens are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence. These teens may have a hard time recognizing that they are victims because partner violence is commonly defined within a heterosexual context. Teens’ sexual orientation and/or gender identity can affect their access to preventative resources and protection. It is important to note that being disproportionately affected by violence is a result of the discrimination that LGBTQ+ and other disproportionately affected minority youth face. However, their identities themselves are not risk factors. LGBTQ+ youth are among those at highest risk for attempting suicide, and those who experience physical dating violence are at significantly greater risk. The facts are, limited data are available on LGBTQ+ Teen Dating Violence, which is a cause for concern.
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender teenagers are at a much greater risk of dating abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. Transgender teens are especially vulnerable.
- LGBTQ youth report a 30% incidence of dating violence, compared to 9% of heterosexual students.
- Only four U.S. states and the District of Columbia require school sex education curricula to include LGBTQ-specific content.
If you or a loved one are in an abusive relationship or need support, please talk to a trusted adult or friend and look into the resources below. Many of these websites have “easy escape” buttons and will not save the website to your search history. A bubble will usually pop-up to explain this when you arrive at the website.
While relationships can change, it is often unrealistic to “fix” abusive relationships and patterns. It is important that you make decisions that prioritize your future and safety. If you’re planning to break-up with an abusive partner, prepare yourself for the emotions that will come up–loneliness, difficulty making decisions if they were always in control, etc. Do not break-up in person if it is potentially unsafe. If you do break-up in person, be sure to do it in a public place and have a friend or family member nearby for added safety. Though this can be difficult and sad, everyone deserves to be loved in a way that does not put their safety or wellbeing at risk.
- North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- National Resource Center for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
- National Online Resource Center on Violence against Women (VAWnet.org)
- Love is Respect
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
- 800-799-SAFE (7233)
- The Trevor Project
Love should never hurt physically or emotionally. You have the right to feel safe and good about yourself.
“LGBT Teens Are at Higher Risk of Being Victims of Dating Violence.” California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, https://www.cpedv.org/blog-post/lgbt-teens-are-higher-risk-being-victims-dating-violence.
LGBTQ Fact Sheet – Legal Momentum. https://www.legalmomentum.org/sites/default/files/reports/LGBTQ%20Fact%20Sheet%20Final.pdf.
Preventing Teen Dating Violence. https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/tdv-factsheet.pdf.