The Facts on Teen Dating Violence and Sexual Assault

175 45

As a survivor of teen sexual assault, I believe in the importance of sharing the facts on teen dating violence and sexual assault. I, unfortunately (and like so many others), didn’t have an adult that understood the gravity and frequency at which teens experience sexual assault or violence within their relationships.

Instead, these conversations seem to be saved for women in their 20s and 30s. Studies have even found that a whopping 81% of parents of teenagers don’t believe teen dating violence is really an issue and 58% of parents don’t know how to recognize the signs of sexual assault, physical abuse, or dating violence.

This lack of awareness undoubtedly contributes to the fact that so many people don’t receive the help that they need. Plus, speaking out about sexual assault or partner violence is scary – especially when it feels like nobody will believe you. And, that’s exactly why speaking out and sharing the facts on partner violence and sexual assault among teenagers is so vital. Spreading awareness about the frequency of these issues is the first step to opening the conversation and providing helpful and safe resources to people who are struggling.

Nearly 20% of women and 14% of men experience teen dating violence, abuse, or sexual assault. Furthermore, in any given year, 1.5 million high school students in the United States experience physical abuse of some sort from a partner. As you can see, sexual assault and dating violence are terribly common among teenagers, as well. In the long term, these destructive relationships put individuals at a higher risk of developing an addiction, eating disorder, and further sexual and domestic assault. So, what can we do about this, while remaining safe and mentally well?

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent relationship violence and sexual assault starts with the parents. Parents must become aware of the issue and learn how to open the conversation with their teenagers in order to help prevent unhealthy dating relationships. Some strategies suggested by the CDC include:

  • Teaching safe and healthy relationship skills
  • Engage teens with influential adults and peers
  • Disrupt developmental pathways toward partner violence through family enrichment programs or treatment programs for at-risk youth and families
  • Improve school home, work, and social environments for teenagers
  • Provide support to survivors to increase safety and lessen harms

If you are a parent who is a survivor of teen dating violence and/or sexual assault, you can even use your own experience to help educate and support your teenager. 

Teen dating violence and sexual assault between partners is more common than a lot of people think – and it has devastating emotional and mental consequences. As a result, it’s important to know how to not only prevent it from happening but also how to support survivors of it in a safe and confidential way. This starts by increasing awareness around how often dating violence and sexual assault occur between teenagers because, without awareness, there is no reason to talk about it in the first place – leaving more and more victims to suffer in silence.


Join the Conversation

45 comments

  1. MySunshineD Volunteer

    Wow Hparks1, thank you so much for sharing this information and for caring enough for others that you have taken an active role in helping to educate others. You have come so far in your journey and I am so proud of where you are today. Keep up the great work and again, thank you for sharing this information. Keep it up! ~ Terri

  2. cindy024 Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,
    This is very informational and helpful for those individuals that need our help. Thanks for sharing these wonderful facts and information of teen dating violence.

  3. Ruby98 Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,
    Thank you for sharing such helpful information with the AVFTI community. It truly is appreciated, it’s always great to be aware and informed of such important facts. I also thank you for sharing and disclosing your sexual assault. I completely understand how you must of felt as the adults around me also were not aware of how prevalent sexual assault and violence is within relationships. As you mentioned, prevention and support for survivors in a safe and confidential way is highly important to implement. You are inspiring for sharing such crucial information with the AVFTI community. Stay Safe!

  4. Edjay Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you for sharing this information with us, it’s definitely good to be aware of these facts about teen dating violence.

  5. Ashley Day Captain

    hparks1,

    Thank you for taking the time to share this information with our community.

    After you experienced sexual assault as a teenager, I’m thinking it would have been comforting to have an adult to lean on for support.
    It’s alarming to hear that a significant number of parents don’t believe that teen dating violence exists. Knowing the signs of dating violence, physical abuse, and sexual assault can be beneficial because parents would know when to intervene by having an open conversation with their teenagers.
    People are worthy of receiving the help they need. Speaking out about a topic that isn’t talked about can play an important role in letting people know that it’s okay to talk about difficult things and to seek support. I like the suggestions that the CDC has about preventing relationship violence among teenagers; I can see how teaching safe and healthy relationship skills, surrounding teenagers with influential adults and peers, and creating a safe environment can help prevent unhealthy relationships.

    Ashley

  6. mikaylaanne11 Volunteer

    Hi there, hparks1,

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I think this is an awesome collection of resources and will hopefully help those who read it. I’m a survivor of teen dating violence, and I didn’t know I was a victim until I was 19. So many people lack the understanding that assault can happen in relationships. I would love to share this information with some of my family and friends who have young teens, if that’s alright with you!

    Keep on using your voice. We’re here to encourage and support you!

  7. alexiswilliams

    Hparks1,

    I sincerely enjoyed your post. It’s empowering that you have chosen to use your own experiences to raise awareness about these issues. While many of these truths are hard to accept, I am thankful for the people who passionately share these facts. You are inspiring! Please feel welcome to share again!
    Best,
    Lex

  8. music2799 Day Captain

    Hi hparks,
    Thank you so much for sharing this information with us. I wish you had an adult in your life who understood the gravity of sexual violence. I, like you, am a survivor of teen dating violence, and my parents didn’t know how to support me through it. I plan on staying informed so I can better support the people around me, and you posted some great references.
    I completely agree with you. I think it’s so important to be informed, know what to look for, and know how to prevent these unhealthy relationships. In this case, ignorance is not bliss, and it can lead to harm. If more people have and share this knowledge, others may know who they can turn to for support, which is so important. No one should suffer in silence.
    Keep speaking up and sharing information! If you need anything else, please write back. We’re here to support and listen to you, and you’re doing great.

  9. Neesha Volunteer

    Thanks for sharing the information. People being afraid to speak up is a major problem, which is why I love this site so much.

  10. Breanna Volunteer

    Dear hparks1,

    Thank you very much for sharing this important information with us. This is really helpful to know and consider, especially when thinking about the larger-scale of these issues.

    Much love,
    Bre

  11. Bluebell13 Volunteer

    Dear hparks1,
    Thank you for speaking up about such an important topic and sharing the information. Being afraid to talk about it perpetuates so many harmful situations. Please feel free to come back and update us as often as you would like and keep speaking up!
    Sending you love and strength,
    Roxie

  12. MarciaD Volunteer

    Hi hparks1 – You have obviously done quite a bit of research to gather all of this information. Thank you for sharing this with us. Education about dating violence and sexual assault is so very important. Keep up the good work and come back and share information, it is very appreciated.

    Much love,
    Marciad

  13. yailinrenteria Volunteer

    Hey hparks1,
    It is really inspiring that you have taken an initiative to inform others on this important topic. Being a survivor yourself and wanting to share this information in order to help victims is amazing. Teen dating violence and sexual assault are topics that not a lot of people are informed thoroughly about. That why it is important to inform people about the topics in order to provide help to victims. Thank you for sharing this information.

    Best wishes,
    -Yailin

  14. Elvia29 Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,
    Thank you for sharing the importance of teen dating violence and sexual assault. I think it’s very important to learn about this and be aware too. This is a big problem in the world. I am sorry you didn’t have an adult to help you with what you went through. No one should even have to go through this alone. Actually, no one should ever have to go through this. Thanks again for sharing this information with us. I really hope this information helps people. Come again if you need to share anything with us, we are here to listen and help with what we can.
    Elvia

  15. almax Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,
    Thank you for sharing this very important information, you are right this is something that needs more attention. We appreciate you taking your time to educate. I’m sorry you were a victim of teen sexual assault as well, we are here for you if you ever need anything else. Keep up the good work!

  16. Starling Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,
    Thank you for sharing this information here with us. It’s important to be educated on this topics, and it’s clear that you have put a lot of work into researching this. Feel free to come back and continue sharing with us. If you ever need anything, let us know. We’re always here for you.

  17. rachelb098 Volunteer

    Hi there,

    Thank you for sharing and shedding light on this incredibly important topic. Continue doing your amazing work!

    Best,
    Rachel

  18. mjy1999 Volunteer

    Thank you for providing some really helpful and valuable information. I think this information can help others spread the word. The more people know it can help people outside of your circle.

  19. jlanderos16 Volunteer

    Hey Hparks1!
    Thank you for sharing this information of teen dating violence and sexual assault. I been learning about this through my criminal justice courses. I completely argue that many victims suffer in silences because they are afraid or people won’t believe them. This situations is important to talk about it with someone and parents should even talk about it with teenagers about the consequences this faces to our health. More importantly, thank for for sharing with us and more people would know! It’s better to speak out then be in silence about your situations.

  20. Rustin Day Captain

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you for sharing this information. I think understanding teen dating violence and sexual assault is very important. Adults tend to not take teen dating seriously but this seems to be where we start to form relationships that will continue to impact us into our adult lives. This is something that should definitely be presented in different areas to make more people aware of this.

    -Rustin

  21. dzreid Volunteer

    hi Hparks1!
    It looks like you have put a lot of time into researching on this topic! Thank you for sharing all this. It may be enough to prevent teens from being in dating violence or assault situations. It is sad how much teen dating violence, or sexual assault really does happen. I agree that prevention should begin in the home with talks about safe dating, & dating violence. Sometimes, people may be afraid to approach the subject, or may not know how to tell someone if it happened. I think the more people know, the better it will be for everyone. Thank you again for sharing this information!
    Dawn

  22. aegardiner Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you for providing this information! There are a lot of people who read through posts before they feel comfortable sharing their story. I hope that seeing these facts will help them know they are not alone and that sexual assault and dating violence is a common public health issue. It is sad that a lot of people, parents especially, want to ignore the issue and hope that that means it is not happening. Thankfully, there are people like you who are willing to compile this information and share it with whoever they can. We appreciate you!

  23. eagle206 Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you for coming here and sharing this information! It’s so important to share facts on these issues so that people can go forward in life more informed. Information is power. It’s really important to support those that are uninformed.

    Stay strong,

    Tyler

  24. Lex Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you so much for sharing this information with us! I am so sorry that you had to experience sexual assault. By fighting for this and sharing resources, you will be making a huge difference. Feel free to come back and share with us again!

    – Lex

  25. caitlynmmiller Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing these facts with us. There’s a ton of information I didn’t know, and I’m sure many others don’t either. I’m really sorry you experienced sexual assault as a teenager, but it’s good to hear you seem to be doing better! Keep fighting for this and making a difference! We’re here for you always.

    Caitlyn

  26. Marissa Day Captain

    Hey hparks1,

    Thanks for sharing those incredibly important statistics. Hopefully people will start to take these facts more seriously and will be able to recognize the warning signs early on. Your post and the research behind it will help to make a difference. Don’t stop fighting the good fight!

    Marissa

  27. lizzi

    Hey hparks1,
    Thank you so much for sharing this! I wasn’t aware of some of these numbers, and they are quite shocking. It makes me really sad to see the percentage of teenagers that don’t believe this is an issue or parents that wouldn’t recognize the signs. A common thing amongst survivors that I’ve noticed on here is that they’ve tried to tell their parents and have been rejected or had the trauma minimized. It makes sense that a parent wouldn’t respond well if over half wouldn’t notice that something had happened. I’m not a parent or a teen, but this was a very interesting read. Again, thanks for sharing!

  28. pianogirl44 Volunteer

    This is something that is often on mind. I think that the media is to blame for a lot of things. I’m not one of those people that carelessly blames social media, television, and movies for things, but once I started paying attention, it made me realize that I think they definitely perpetuate unhealthy behaviours. There are a lot of TV shows that romanticize aspects of teen relationships and cut out all of the important things that go into establishing a healthy relationship. Instead, they often jump right to sex and there is little conversation between the two people before, during, and after. Cutting out all of these important conversations is something that is incredibly troubling because it is unrealistic and sets unrealistic expectations. I think teen dating violence and sexual assault is probably so common because there is no conversation around what is right or wrong behaviour when it comes to getting into a romantic relationship. The only conversation that is often had is “don’t get pregnant,” which is obviously not helpful when it comes to thinking about what it means to be in a committed and loving relationship. Also, I think that when assault does occur, most teens (as well as adults) are confused and wonder if their experience even qualifies as assault. This needs to stop since this creates, as you suggest, lasting emotional and psychological consequences. I think that we don’t have this conversation enough. You hear people talking about how troubling the media is, but the statement is often so vague that no one has actually taken the time to sit down and break down what is exactly troubling. I’m so glad that you posted these statistics. There is not enough awareness and transparency. Thank you.

  29. haesol Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    I’m really sorry that you know about sexual assault from experience. As the facts and data that you’ve shown, it’s terrible to notice such a huge number of victims. It’s awful that parents sometimes don’t even believe their own kids are bring abused because they can’t even tell the signs. You’re right, without awareness we’re left with no path to walk on.
    I hope that moving forward awareness is spread well enough that the number of victims get lower and lower, and that survivors can talk about their stories without fear of being judged or disbelieved.
    Again, thank you for sharing this, it was really useful.
    Stay safe!
    -sol.

  30. brookeallnutt Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you for sharing all of this important info! I’m sorry that you had to experience sexual assault, and it’s amazing that you are sharing resources that will hopefully help others. If you ever want to share anything else, we are always here for you!

  31. rohina_kumar Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you so much for sharing such shocking, yet insightful information on here. I’m so sorry that you’ve had to experience sexual assault as a teenager; I can’t imagine how traumatizing that experience must have been for you. The stats you’ve provided on here really goes on to show the common overarching theme in most survivor stories – that it begins to happen at a young age, and that they have multiple difficulties with their parents if they don’t believe their story or aren’t necessarily their pillars of support. It’s unfortunate how common these are. That being said, thank you for taking the time and sharing the knowledge you’ve learned with us! We’re here to support you throughout any hardships in life and feel free to come back on here with an update at any time! All the love.

    – Rohina

  32. jcas120 Volunteer

    Hello hparks1,

    Thank you for coming by and sharing all of this data with us. I do agree, it seems like many parents don’t believe these statistics and many don’t believe that their children can be victim to this as well. It’s a common theme here to see a story with a survivor trying to find ways to tell a parent about what happened to them. I’ve sadly also seen instances where parents don’t believe their children. It’s really sad to see those things be so common. I hope that in the future parents can learn to recognize these signs and we can do more for sexual assault prevention.

  33. candyappleb Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    I am so sorry that you have experienced teen dating violence. Thank you for sharing this information with us. You’re right, it’s always helpful to share the harrowing statistics with people. Please feel free to share with us again, anytime. We are here for you, we believe you, and we support you.

    All the best,
    Becca

  34. Solongago Volunteer

    I am sorry that you have had this experience, and did not have an adult that you felt you could confide in about it. It seems that you have learned a lot about what happened to you and are helping others by spreading awareness, and I think that is awesome. I wish that we did not have to worry ourselves and others about stuff like this, but we live in the world. So if there are going to be creeps, there has to be a plan to deal with them and with the havoc they create. Educating ourselves on the facts and prevalence of this sort of stuff is power. I think you are doing a great job.

  35. nvehovc Volunteer

    First of all, thank you so much for sharing and you are so strong and brave. As a teen, I feel very strongly about this issue. It’s so frightening knowing these facts and not see enough action taken against it. These statistics need to change soon or they might get even worse. I really appreciate your work and message about spreading awareness about teen sexual abuse because it is comforting to know that some people are working to solve this issue. If you have any opportunities you can share with us to truly get involved to combat this issue together please share them!
    Best wishes,
    Nadia Vehovc

  36. musicislove

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you for sharing that info, and I’m sorry for the trauma you experienced when you were younger. I planned my work’s campaign for teen dating violence awareness month this past February and was saddened when I read more into just how bad the facts are. It’s so important for more people to know these things so they know what to look out for, so I appreciate you sharing the information here.

    Delaney

  37. KatherineL Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thanks for sharing. I’ve experienced dating violence when I was younger but didn’t have the knowledge or tools to recognize my experiences as abuse and advocate for myself. As a sexual violence researcher, it’s frustrating to know that we have knowledge on these topics but so many people don’t get this information in time. I hope that we can continue to spread awareness so young people don’t have to continue going through these harms.

    KatherineL

  38. Alyssa Day Captain

    Hi hparks1,
    Thank you for sharing this with us. Like Northlane1991 said this is very important information. Hopefully other storytellers get to see this story so they know that they are not alone with how they are feeling. Thank you again for sharing this!
    -Alyssa

  39. tolleytn Volunteer

    Hparks,

    Thank you for sharing with everyone! We always appreciate it <3

    – Tiffany

  40. Northlane1991 Volunteer

    Thank you for sharing this important information. I hope more individuals look into this and use this as a resource. Stay safe and postive.

  41. colton95 Volunteer

    Thanks for sharing all this! I hope that more people who need to know this stuff will read this and learn. Stay safe and positive!

  42. ZJC9753 Volunteer

    Hi hparks1,

    Thank you so much for providing information. It is so frustrating as a sexual assault survivor and as a scientist to constantly see a lack of information concerning these topics, which is a particular issue for teens. You are right, this is a much more common than people think and awareness is super important. Thank you for taking the time to address these issues.

  43. Jamie Marie Volunteer

    Thank you for sharing the information with us and spreading awareness. Unfortunately, sexual violence is common and needs to be addressed more often and taken seriously way more.
    As a survivor as well, it’s sickening to know how common and normalized it’s become, but we’re here to help and raise awareness, and we thank you for taking the time to address this.

  44. Erin O'Callaghan Day Captain

    Thank you for coming here to share with us, especially as a survivor with the goal of increasing awareness. As a survivor and sexual violence researcher myself, I know how frustrating it can be when we don’t see statistics/research on the experiences we went through, even though we know that our experiences are not unique. I completely agree that adults and our society need to get better at addressing violence in younger folks, and we all need guidance on building healthy relationships.

    Erin

  45. kelly Day Captain

    Thanks for sharing all of this, hparks1. You’re right, sexual violence is a lot more common among young teens than some people think. It’s a conversation that needs to be had and hopefully will become more commonplace.