Prevalence of Abuse Among Teens

About Abuse

About Teen Dating Violence

Teen dating violence is a pattern of physically, sexually, verbally and/or emotionally
abusive behavior in a dating relationship. Teen dating violence is similar to
domestic violence, however, teens face unique obstacles in recognizing and escaping
abusive relationships.

Prevalence of Abuse Among Teens

Although often not recognized, young people experience abuse in their relationships
at very high rates
. Adolescents are particularly susceptible to becoming trapped
in the cycle of violence. No longer children but not yet adults, teenagers are
beginning to form their first intimate relationships, yet often do not have
the experience, confidence or information to know what is healthy or unhealthy
in a relationship.

Obstacles to Teen Victims Seeking Help

Teen victims face many obstacles to seeking help. They often do not have access

  • shelter
  • money
  • transportation

They must overcome issues such as

  • distrust of adults
  • lack of knowledge about available resources
  • pressure from peers and parents.

Confusion about the law adds another layer of difficulty for young people in
need. Often teens do not reach out for help because they do not know their rights.
They also have fears about lack of confidentiality, mandated child abuse reporting
and parental consent laws. In addition, social service agencies frequently do
not provide services to minors because of concerns about legal liability.

The Facts

  • One in three teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships,
    including verbal and emotional abuse.
  • 40% of teenage girls, ages 14 to 17, know someone their age who has been
    hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
  • Girls and women between the ages of 16 and 24 are the most vulnerable
    to domestic violence, experiencing the highest per capita rates of non-fatal
    intimate partner violence.
  • Young victims of domestic violence identify a desire for confidentiality
    and confusion about the law as two of the most significant barriers to seeking

Left untreated, unhealthy, abusive patterns in a teen’s relationship can carry
into their adult lives, becoming increasingly difficult to change. Through prevention
and early intervention services, teens can work toward ensuring safe and healthy