Growing up is an amazing process. As young minds and bodies mature, teenagers begin to spend more time socializing with friends and dating. It is sad and frightening to know these important adolescent experiences can be dangerous.

Facts & Figures
  • Approximately 1 out of every 3 high school and college students has experienced sexual, physical, verbal or emotional violence in dating relationships.1
  • A study of over 1,000 high school students found that 45% of females and 43% of males reported being the recipient of violence from dating partners at least once.2
  • Estimates of the prevalence of teen dating violence range from 9% to 60% of all teens. Female teens cause more minor injuries than male teens, but are also likely to receive more significant physical injuries and are more likely to be sexually victimized.3
  • Girls were much more likely to be punched and to be forced to engage in sexual activity against their will. Boys, on the other hand, were significantly more likely to be pinched, slapped, scratched and kicked.2
  • In discussing violent dating relationships, female teens reported that males they dated initiated abuse 70% of the time, and males in the same study reported that females they dated initiated abuse 27% of the time.4
  • 89% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 say they have been in a dating relationship.5


  1. Mitchell, Anita. (1996). “Teen Dating Violence.” Protecting Sexually Active Youth, Vol. 4(1), March, 1996.
  2. O’Keefe, M.; Trester, L. (1998). “Victims of Dating Violence Among High School Students.” Violence Against Women, 4(2): 195-223.
  3. Cohall, Alwyn; Cohall, Renee; Bannister, Hope; Northridge, Mary. (1999). “Love Shouldn’t Hurt: Strategies for Heath Care Providers to Address Adolescent Dating Violence.” Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, 54(3), Summer 1999.
  4. Molidor, C.; Tolman, R.M. (1998). “Gender and Contextual Factors in Adolescent Dating Violence.” Violence Against Women, 4(2): 180-194.
  5. Children Now/Kaiser Permanente, 1995.
Dating Violence

Dating violence is a pattern of controlling, abusive and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. It can happen in straight or gay relationships. It can include verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or any combination thereof. You may experience dating violence even if you are not being physically abused. It can occur in casual dating situations or serious, long-term relationships. Dating violence can happen to anyone, at any age. Being a victim of dating violence is not your fault. Nothing you say, wear or do gives anyone the right to hurt you.


  • One in three teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship.
  • 50-80% of teens reported knowing someone who was involved in a violent relationship.
  • Young women, ages 16-24, experience the highest rates of relationship violence.
  • Of the women between the ages of 15-19 murdered each year, 30% are killed by their husband or boyfriend.1

Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Controlling Behavior

  • Not letting you hang out with your friends
  • Calling or paging you frequently to find out where you are, who you’re with and what you’re doing
  • Telling you what clothes and makeup to wear
  • Having to be with you all the time

Verbal & Emotional Abuse

  • Calling you names, belittling you
  • Threatening to hurt you or someone you care about
  • Jealousy

Physical Abuse

  • Shoving
  • Punching/Hitting
  • Slapping
  • Pinching
  • Kicking
  • Hair pulling
  • Strangling

Sexual Abuse

  • Unwanted touching
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Not letting you take your birth control
  • Forcing you to perform other sexual acts

Get Help

If you think you are in an abusive relationship…

  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Call 911 for emergencies
  • Call a 24-hour hotline
  • Mercer County Hotline: 609-394-9000
  • New Jersey Statewide Hotline: 800.572.SAFE
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.799.SAFE
  • If you know someone who is in a violent relationship, you can call a hotline for information and encourage them to seek help


  1. City of New York, Teen Relationship Abuse Fact Sheet, March 1998
Teen Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is any act – verbal and/or physical – that breaks a person’s trust and/or threatens their safety and is sexual in nature. Victims/survivors of sexual assaults are forced, coerced and/or manipulated to participate in the unwanted sexual activity. Criminal sexual contact, sexual harassment, sexual stalking on the Internet and lewdness are also forms of sexual violence. Sexual assault is the legal term for rape and includes vaginal, oral or anal sex without the victim’s consent or with a victim who is unable to consent.



  • Young women ages 12-34 are at the highest risk for sexual assault.
  • Risk peaks in the late teens, girls 16 to 19 are four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault.
  • 38% of those victimized by rape are young women between the ages of 14 and 17.

Acquaintance rapes account for 93% of all rapes of teens.


Consent is the basis for sexual relations. This means…

  • The only thing that means yes is yes — providing that the person saying yes is at the age of consent.
  • No means no; silence means no; maybe means no.
  • If someone is too drunk to say no, or too disabled to say no, or too young to say no, that also means no.
  • You have the right to change your mind about having sex.
  • Kissing only means you agree to kiss.
  • Just because you are at his house, he is not entitled to sex.
  • No one owes anyone sex for money, or for buying something.
  • Sexual assault is a widespread and under-reported crime.

Get Help

  • 911 For emergencies
  • Get medical attention, whether you plan to report the rape or not
  • If you are going to report the crime to police, do not shower, bathe, douche, go to the bathroom, eat, drink or smoke
  • Go to a hospital emergency room

Call a 24-Hour Hotline

  • Mercer County Hotline: 609.394.9000
  • New Jersey Statewide Hotline: 800.601.7200
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE
  • If you know someone who has been sexually assaulted, you can call a hotline for information and encourage them to seek help.

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