Lesson #3: Fast Facts about Dating Violence

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In North American culture it is not uncommon for youths to commence the dating process at an early age. Dating and “going out” are at the forefront of adolescent thinking and activity – the social pressure to have a dating relationship is intense. Yet the context of dating and dating behaviours vary widely by age and gender – while at age 12 and 13 they may be going on “group dates” and attending school dances, by age 15 and 16 they may be going on “couple dates.”

US Statistics

  • 1 in 3 high school students report experiencing either physical or sexual violence or both and it is perpetrated by the person they are dating;
  • 1 in 10 high school students who have been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt, report that the violence was perpetrated by a boyfriend or girlfriend;
  • 1 in 4 males and nearly half of the female high school students who have experienced sexual or physical abuse by their dating partner have also been cyberbullied (breakthecycle.org, 2017).
  • In 2015, it was reported that 20.9% of females and 13.4% of male high school students are physically or sexually abused.
  • A 2013 study found that 35% of the 10th graders had been either physically or verbally abused; 31% were perpetrators of physical and verbal abuse.
  • In 2013 a study that found 26% of teens in relationships were victims of cyber dating abuse. Females were two times more likely to be victims of cyberviolence than males.
  • Only 33% of teenage dating abuse victims told anyone about the violence.
  • 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their college experience (ncadv.org, 2015)

Canada statistics:

  • 10% of high-school students have experienced physical violence and another 10% reported sexual violence occurring in their dating relationships.
  • 79% of female Canadian college students report psychological violence, 27% experienced sexual violence, 22% reported physical violence with their dating partner (Jaffe, Fairbairn & Sapardanis, 2018).
  • Of those who dated within the previous 5 years, 5% reported physical violence on a survey. However, among individuals who dated only 1% reported sexual violence.
  • In 52% of police-reported intimate partner violence (IPV) cases, people were victimized by a dating partner.
  • The perpetrator of IPV among youth aged from 15 to 19 years of age (51%) is a current dating partner (Statistics Canada, 2014).


  • A study conducted on ninth-graders illustrated cyber dating abuse wherein 56% of them reported “electronic aggression.”
  • Technological abuse: 25% of youth reported in a study being called names, harassed, or put down through cell phones and texting.
  • 22% of the youth from the same study reported being asked over the phone to engage in doing something sexual they did not want to.
  • 19% of the youth reported their partner using the internet to spread rumours about them.

11% reported that their partner shared embarrassing photos or videos of them without their consent (revenge porn, sextortion).10% reported being physically threatened by their partner through social media (Janine et al, 2013).

Unfortunately, abuse and violence do occur in dating relationships at all ages, in fact, it parallels adult violence in that it exists on a continuum from verbal and emotional abuse to sexual assault and murder. The consequences of experiencing violence in a dating relationship are long-lasting and may include damage to self-esteem, confidence and sense of safety, negative affect on development and functioning, and, importantly, increasing risk for experiencing further violence in future relationships.

It is important for young people to recognize the warning signs of abuse, including:

  • Your partner makes threats of violence;
  • Your partner is obsessed with dominating and controlling you;
  • Your partner is sexually possessive and often degrades or humiliates you;
  • You know your dating partner abused a former girlfriend. His father is physically abusive. Your partner accepts or defends the use of violence.

Other potential warning signs associated with the personality of the abuser have been identified:

  • Low self-esteem or poor self-image;
  • Low tolerance for frustration;
  • Mood swings;
  • Short-tempered or anger prone (tending to express fear or anxiety as anger, or refusing to discuss feelings and then blowing up in explosive anger);
  • Extreme jealousy;
  • Over-possessiveness.

Based on these characteristics a person who is being abusive then may:

  • Get too serious too quickly;
  • Feel they need to make all the decisions;
  • Manipulate and control the other person’s contact with friends, family, outside activities, or isolate them from friends and family;
  • Put down the other person’s ideas, friends, family, appearance;
  • Impose stereotypical views of male and female relationships (men in control, women submissive, etc.)
  • Blame, threaten, use guilt;
  • Make accusations of dishonesty;
  • Demand to know the other person’s whereabouts at all times;
  • Refuse to take “no” for an answer