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Oct 23

Teen Dating Violence Awareness

Posted on October 23, 2018 at 11:42 AM by Clare Casey

By Nancy Vincent, Housing and Human Services

To report a crime, call the City of Falls Church Police Department at 703-248-5053 or, for emergencies, please call 911.

If you or someone you know is experiencing any form of domestic violence, and you want to talk about options and resources available, call the 24-hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Hotline at 703-360-7273.

Another resource for anonymous, confidential help that is available 24/7 is the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and on October 22 the City Council issued a Proclamation encouraging efforts to prevent domestic violence. In this blog, I concentrate on one aspect of domestic violence, teen dating violence. Research shows that domestic violence often begins with dating violence in adolescence.

Teen dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional aggression within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen dating violence is widespread with serious long-term and short-term effects. Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family. In a 2015 survey, nearly 12% of high school females reported physical violence and nearly 16% reported sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months* before they were surveyed. For high school males, more than 7% reported physical violence and about 5% reported sexual violence from a dating partner.


As teens develop emotionally, they are heavily influenced by experiences in their relationships. Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to:
  • Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety; 
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol; 
  • Exhibit antisocial behaviors; and/or 
  • Think about suicide.
Ways teens can keep relationships healthy and nonviolent are communicating with the partner, managing uncomfortable emotions like anger and jealousy, and treating others with respect. Ways we all can work to prevent dating violence include the following:
  • Teach safe and healthy relationship skills; 
  • Engage influential adults and peers; 
  • Disrupt the developmental pathways toward partner violence; 
  • Create protective environments; 
  • Strengthen economic supports for families; and, 
  • Support survivors to increase safety and lessen harms.
Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies. Further information and resources can be found at the Fairfax County Office for Women & Domestic and Sexual Violence Services or by calling the Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline at 703-360-7273.

*Kann, L., McManus, T., Harris. W. A., et al. (2016). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2015.