• Teen Dating Violence: Myth vs. Fact

    1.  Teen dating violence rarely happens.

    FACT:  Teen dating violence is as common as domestic violence in adult relationships. A 2001 study of high school students conducted by Harvard University found that 1 in 5 teenage girls had been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner

    2.  Teen girls are just as abusive as boys.

    FACT:  Research shows that teen girls are not as likely to be as abusive as teen boys. Teen boys are far more likely to initiate violence and teen girls are more likely to be violent in a case of self-defense.  Males are more likely to report they use violence to intimidate, cause fear, or force their girlfriends into doing something.  Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics reports that over 90% of the reported incidents of assaults in all relationships are committed by males.

    3.  Teen dating violence isn’t really that serious.

    FACT:  Teen dating violence can be very dangerous – sometimes lethal. Results of teen dating violence and sexual assault include serious physical harm, emotional damage, sexually transmitted disease, unwanted pregnancy, and death.  One in three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship.  40% of teenage girls ages 14 to 17 say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend and women ages 16-24 experience the highest rate per capita of intimate violence.

    4.  Victims bring on the abuse themselves.  They ask for it.  Some victims provoke the violence committed by their dates by making them jealous, acting mean, or teasing them into thinking they want to have sex.

    FACT:  Dating violence is NEVER a victim’s fault.  There is no such thing as victim precipitated violence and the victim has not control over the abuse.

    5.  Teen dating violence only occurs between girls and boys.

    FACT:  Teen dating violence and sexual assault is estimated to occur between lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth at about the same rate as in straight teen relationships. However, LGBTQ youth are even less likely than heterosexual youth to tell anyone or seek help, and there are fewer resources for these teens.

    6.  Teens experiencing dating violence usually tell a trusted adult.

    FACT:  Teens experiencing dating violence usually tell no one.  Only 33% tell anyone about the abuse and even fewer tell their parents.  When they do tell, they usually tell another teen.

    7.  If a person stays in an abusive relationship, it must not really be that bad.

    FACT:  There are many reasons youth may stay in abusive relationship:  fear, wanting to be loved and needed, having a partner may be important to a youth’s social status, believing the abuser’s apologies and promises to never do it again, peer pressure, loss of self-confidence, not recognizing what’s happening is abusive, and the impact of TV, music, movies and other forms of media that normalize violence.

    8.  Alcohol and drugs can cause teen dating violence and sexual assault.

    FACT:  Alcohol and drugs can and do exacerbate violence, but they are NEVER the cause of violence.  Additionally, many people who batter do not drink heavily and many alcoholics do not beat their partners.