Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month 2021: Know Your Worth

The theme for TDVAM 2021 is about self-empowerment, self-respect, and self-esteem. This year’s message is for all teens, with a special focus on teens who have experienced dating violence and for teens who date and want to prevent dating violence.

Advocates from LoveisRespect – the organization responsible for TDVAM – created the theme to remind teens of this basic fact:

Every young person deserves a healthy, loving relationship.

That’s something we can all agree on. Unfortunately, intimate partner violence among adults and teens is real and happens more than most people realize.

Teen Dating Violence: The Facts and Figures

We collected the following data from the Love is Respect website and the National Intimate Partner and Domestic Violence Survey (NISVS). These are the latest statistics, derived from surveys conducted by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, an agency funded and managed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC first published these statistics in 2015 and updated them in a supplemental report published in 2018.

These figures represent our most up-to-date knowledge on intimate partner violence in the U.S., which includes teen dating violence.

Big Picture Statistics

  • 20% of women and 14% of men experience physical, emotional, or sexual violence during their teen years.
  • 33% of women and 25% of men will experience relationship violence at some point during their lives.
  • 5 million high school students in the U.S. experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year.
  • 33% of teens who experience violence in their relationships tell someone about it

Those are the numbers from the teen side of the situation. These high rates may come as a shock to some people. One explanation is the fact that, in many cases, adults are unaware of the prevalence of teen dating violence. In addition, many adults do not know the signs or understand what to do if they learn their teen is a victim or perpetrator of teen dating violence.

Here are the statistics on the adult side of the situation:

  • 81% of parents say it’s not an issue or say they don’t know if it is or not.
  • 82% of parents say they’d know if their teen was experiencing abuse, but less than half – only 42% – could properly identify the signs of teen dating violence/abuse.
  • 80% of high school counselors say they’re not prepared to handle reports/incidents of teen dating abuse in their schools.

We think these are important facts for teens to know about dating violence: it happens more than most people think, most adults don’t think it’s a big issue, and the adults that do know about it don’t feel they know what to do.

That’s why we have things like Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and that’s why we write and publish articles on teen dating violence every year.

The next thing all people need to know about are the short- and long-term repercussions of teen dating violence. And we mean all people – not just teens, their parents, and people like teachers or coaches who work with teens every day.

The Consequences of Teen Dating Violence

Research from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows victims of relationship violence are at increased risk of:

Those risks increase for both teenage boys and teenage girls. However, some consequences of sexual violence are specific to teenage girls.

Teenage girls who experience sexual violence are:

  • Six times more likely to become pregnant during their teen years
  • Twice as likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection

There are also disturbing statistics on women who experience sexual violence or rape:

  • 94% experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within two weeks of rape or assault
  • 30% report PTSD symptoms nine months after the rape or assault
  • 33% of women who are raped think about attempting suicide
  • 13% of women who are raped attempt suicide

This next set of figures describes how sexual assault or rape can disrupt relationships across all areas of life. These statistics apply to both girls and boys:

  • 38% of people who experience sexual violence also experience problems at work or school
  • 37% experience problems with family and friends, including:
    • Increase in arguments
    • Decrease in feelings of trust for friends/family
  • 84% of people who experience intimate partner violence also experience moderate to severe emotional issues
  • 79% of people who experience sexual violence or assault by a friend or acquaintance also experience moderate to severe emotional issues

Be A Voice for Change in Your Community

We encourage everyone to embrace the TDVAM 2021 theme:

Every young person deserves a healthy, loving relationship.

By everyone, we mean teens, teachers, parents, coaches, and anyone involved in the life of a teenager. Teens and adults can advocate among themselves and in their community. One thing adults can do is listen to their teenage children when they speak up about teen dating violence or assault. In most cases, teens can’t handle the situation on their own, and adults need to get involved to help them. Adults can support teen victims and their friends by helping them contact authorities, seek treatment, or handle the consequence of dating violence.

Here are several articles we published in previous years that focus on victims of teen dating violence:

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month:  Know the Facts

Teen Dating Violence: Ten Signs to Watch For

If a Parent Thinks Their Teenager is a Victim of Dating Violence, How Can They Be Sure?

Physical and Sexual Dating Violence Among Teens – Are You at Risk?

What To Do If You’re A Victim of Teen Dating Violence

There’s also another side to this issue: the perpetrators. Addressing one side without addressing the other only addresses half of the problem. That’s a difficult fact to digest, but it’s true: the perpetrators need help. Here are two articles we’ve published that can help parents who think their teen may be a perpetrator of teen dating violence:

How Can Parents Tell If a Teen Is a Perpetrator of Dating Violence?

Teen Dating Violence: What To Do If Your Teen is Abusive

Additional Resources

In closing, we offer the following resources that help teens understand more about teen dating violence.

In 2021, get on board and share the message:

Every teen deserves a healthy, loving relationship.