Teen Dating Violence Facts vs. Myths

Unfortunately there are quite a few myths about teen dating violence. We will try to dispel some of those rumors here. Click on the myths below to read the real facts.


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 one in five teenage girls had been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.

Teen girls are 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.

Some victims of teen dating violence or sexual assault 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.

Teen dating violence is just arguing. It's not dangerous like domestic violence in adult relationships. 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.

Teen dating violence only occurs between boys and girls. 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. (NCAVP, 2001; Dahir, 1999) However, LGBTQ youth are even less likely than heterosexual youth to tell anyone or seek help, and there are fewer resources for these teens.

Teens experiencing dating violence usually tell a trusted adult. Fact

Teens experiencing dating violence usually tell no one. When they do tell, they usually tell another teen. One study found that only 6% of girls and 11% of boys told anyone about the abuse that they experienced (O'Keefe and Treister, 1998).

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 (Bennett, 1997; Schechter and Ganley, 1995).

Sexual assault rarely happens to teens, and when it does, it is perpetrated by a stranger. Fact

Middle school, high school, and college age women experience a higher rate of rape than any other group. Rape is most likely to be perpetrated by someone the victim knows, such as a friend, an acquaintance, a date, a family member, or a partner (Silverman, Raj, Mucci, and Hathaway, 2001; Warshaw, 1988; Haplem, Oslak, Young, Martin, and Kupper, 2001).

Some teens like to be abused that's why they stay in the relationships. Fact

No one likes to be controlled or abused! There are many reasons youth stay in abusive relationships. These include:

  • Having a boyfriend or girlfriend is very important to a youth's social status;
  • Wanting to be loved and needed;
  • Believing the abuser's apologies and promises to never do it again; and
  • Peer pressure.

Television, music, movies and other forms of media normalize violence (Aldridge, Friedman, and Occhiuzzo Giggans, 1995).

If you are experiencing teen dating violence, please call our 24-hour, toll-free, confidential hotline at (800) 603-HELP.

800-603-HELP(4357) Crisis Hotline
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