Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships

Teen dating violence, a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner, is increasingly recognized as a widespread community issue affecting young people across gender, sexual orientation, race and culture. Approximately one in three teens in the U.S. have experienced some form of emotional, verbal, or physical abuse from a dating partner. Because lifelong violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18, it's important to recognize teen dating violence for what it is and not trivialize what teens experience--it's not just playful bullying or normal "lovestruck" behavior. (source)

While there are many similarities to domestic violence, young people may experience increased risk and vulnerability because of their life circumstances and life stage.  Youth may feel intense peer pressure and fear from the disapproval of adults, adding barriers to seeking help.  Teens have less recourse to legal remedies and youth in unstable living situations are at increased risk for exploitation.  In addition, the large role of technology in many teens’ lives can be used as a tool by abusers that not only complicates the abuse, but allows it to stay more hidden.    

Mutual respect, equality and open communication can be modeled as healthy relationship values and positively reinforced among peers and across generations. Those values are just a starting point. Think about and discuss what a healthy relationship means to you!  Challenging and analyzing messages about gender roles, violence and other stereotypes are also powerful tools in reducing violence now and creating healthy relationships for the future.


Check out the Teen Dating Violence Facebook & Twitter pages to stay connected with our TDV work!

Click to view all Teen Dating Violence Resources

Selected Resources

Teen Dating Violence and Healthy Relationships Resource Guide

This guide features free resources that provide information on teen dating violence and healthy relationships. Some resources speak directly to teens, and others are more geared toward adults (parents, educators, advocates, etc.) Last updated: Jan 14 2016.

Topics include:

  • Teen dating violence
  • Healthy relationships
  • Sexual violence
  • Digital safety
  • Teen activism
Coalition Chronicles 34-3: Focus on Healthy Teen Relationships

This issue of the Chronicles shares resources and ideas about how to support teens and how to recognize signs of abuse.  It also highlights some recent teen dating violence prevention initiatives that WI communities have engaged in, including the Growing Roots grant and the work of its recipients; the Teen Council and it’s September retreat; and the Summit on Healthy Teen Relationships coming up in April 2016. It also showcases local programs and initiatives, and features teen/youth voices as survivors and as organizers and activists in the intervention and prevention of violence.

Teen Dating Abuse Safety Plan

This two part safety plan is for teens in an abusive dating relationship to be prepared just in case and for teens ready to leave an abusive relationship to be safe during and after the breakup.  The document is designed for teens to fill in based on what is right for them.  The document includes:

  • Teen Dating Abuse Safety Plan if you are in a relationship
  • Teen Dating Abuse Safety Plan if you decide to break up
How to Help a Friend in an Abusive Relationship

Watching a friend deal with an abusive relationship can be difficult—you may not understand why they're staying in a bad relationship or not know how to help them. Helping a friend in an abusive relationship may also feel like a huge responsibility that you're not ready to take on by yourself—and you shouldn't have to. If you want to help a friend but you're feeling overwhelmed, you can contact a local domestic violence program for help. And you can encourage your friend to do so, too!

Click this link for tips from LoveIsRespect on how to help a friend.

Are you wondering if you should call the police on their behalf? LoveIsRespect has advice about that, too. Click here.

The one page flier attached below includes suggestions for how to help a friend in an abusive relationship.  Consider distributing this handout at a DV program, in schools, amongst friends, or elsewhere in your community. There is a space to include a local program's contact information.  

Teens and Mandated Reporting: Tips for Advocates Building a Relationship

Ten tips and considerations for advocates building a relationship with teen clients while respecting reporting and teen confidentiality.

Tech-Savvy Teens

Choose who gets to see your information. ESCOGE QUIÉN PUEDA VER TU INFORMACIÓN

Restraining Orders for Youth & Teens: Child Abuse & Harassment TROs, Injunctions

These presentation slides, created by Director of Justice SystemsTess Meuer, focus on the two restraining orders available for minors (under the age of 18) in Wisconsin: Child Abuse Restraining Orders and Harassment Restraining Orders.  The slides were presented at the Wisconsin Serving Victims of Crime Conference in August 2015. UPDATED May 2016.