About Dating Violence

According to national research, 1 out of 3 teens report knowing friends or peers who have experienced dating abuse. Worse, the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds that 1 in 10 teens report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Alarmingly, research indicates that only 33% of teens in abusive relationships have reported their experiences to anyone. Of those teen survivors, 3% of teens in abusive relationships reported the abuse to authority figures and 6% told family members.

Dating violence hurts teens’ health. Studies show that teens experiencing abuse are more likely to smoke or use drugs, take diet pills/laxatives, engage in risky sexual behaviors, and attempt or consider suicide.

Dating violence is about control. Teens experiencing abuse are usually silent about their experience; often, teens blame themselves or normalize abusive behaviors as typical. Controlling behaviors, such as demanding passwords to email accounts or constant texting and phone calls may initially be viewed as signs of love – that a dating partner is taking an interest in their lives and showing how much they care.  However, these behaviors are warning signs that a relationship may ultimately become abusive.

There are specific warning signs that may indicate your teen is in an abusive relationship. Different people in your teen’s life (teachers, coaches, friends and other family members) may each notice warning signs in your teen and their dating partner.

REACH offers help to teen survivors and concerned adults through our supportive services. If you would like to talk about what is going on in your child’s relationship, call our free 24-hour hotline at 1.800.899.4000.

REACH also provides youth-focused community prevention programs through our Peers Against ViolencE (PAVE) program. PAVE helps youth develop healthy relationships and practice supportive communication skills, engages youth and invested adults as active bystanders in identifying and responding to dating violence, and fosters youth leadership skills.