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How pervasive and harmful is dating abuse?

Blog post

Dating abuse is one of the most overlooked forms of violence.

  • According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner each year.[2] 
  • Adolescents and young adults have the highest rates of intimate partner violence of any age group.[3] 
  • Dating abuse affects both males and females, and occurs in relationships among young people from all races, class backgrounds, sexual orientations, and gender identities.
  • A study of 1,430 7th-grade students revealed that many 7th-graders are dating and experiencing physical, psychological and electronic dating violence. More than one in three (37%) students surveyed report being a victim of psychological dating violence and nearly one in six (15%) report being a victim of physical dating violence.[4] 
  • Dating abuse victims are at greater risk for poor health and mental health outcomes.[5]
  • A substantial number of dating abuse incidents occur in school buildings and on school grounds.[6]
  • Abusive behaviors learned in adolescence can escalate into adulthood.[7]
  • The impact of dating and domestic violence is devastating, both economically and socially. In 2006, the cost of intimate partner violence was estimated at $5.8 billion.[8]

[1] Family Violence Prevention Fund. (2011.) Middle School – A Key Time to Intervene To Prevent Dating Violence. San Francisco, CA: Author.
[2] US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2008.) Understanding Teen Dating Violence: Fact Sheet. Atlanta, GA: Author.
[3] US Bureau of Justice (2000.) US Bureau of Justice Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence. Washington, DC: Author.
[4] Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Blue Shield of California Foundation. (2012.) Prevention in middle school matters: A Summary of findings on teen dating violence behaviors and associated risk factors among 7th-grade students. Princeton, NJ: Author.
[5] Silverman, J, Raj A, et al.  (2001.)  Dating violence against adolescent girls and associated substance use, unhealthy weight control, sexual risk behavior, pregnancy, and suicidality. JAMA.  286:572-579.
[6] Molidor, C. & Tolman, R. (1998). Gender and contextual factors in adolescent dating violence. Violence Against Women, 4 (2), 180-194.
[7] Graffunder,  Noonan,  Cox, and Wheaton. (2004.) Through the public health lens. Preventing violence against women: An update from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Journal of Women’s Health, 13, 5-14.
[8] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2003.) Costs of intimate partner violence against women in the United States. Atlanta, GA: Author.