Dating Violence/Courtship Violence Essay

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Dating or courtship violence is a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse perpetrated by an individual against a current or former dating partner. Abuse may include insults, coercion, intimidation, sexual harassment, and threats. The effects of dating violence can last a lifetime, particularly for those who are victims of the abuse in their teens and young adult years.


Dating violence occurs in the intimate relationships of persons in a range of ages, from the preteen years through adulthood. Dating violence can occur in heterosexual and homosexual relationships. Statistics indicate that a majority of reported cases of teen dating violence involve male-on-female violence. One in five teenage girls is a victim of dating violence. The highest rates of intimate violence affect women aged 16 to 24 years. Forty percent of teenage girls 14 to 17 years old report knowing someone their age who has been hurt or beaten by a boyfriend. Fifty percent of dating violence victims report the violence to someone else; of these, 88% report the violence to a friend and 20% to criminal justice authorities.

Teen Dating Violence And Adult Intimate Partner Violence

Teen or young adult dating violence mirrors adult intimate partner violence in several ways. For example, teen dating violence covers the same continuum of different types of abuse as adult intimate partner violence. Also similar to adult intimate partner violence, research shows that ending an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time for the victim. However, teen dating violence is different from adult intimate partner violence in two key ways. First, for teens, who are just starting to develop thoughts on dating and love, recognizing that their partner is controlling or abusive is challenging. Second, once they recognize the abuse, teenagers are less likely to disclose the abuse to anyone due to fear that disclosure may lead to backlash by their peers and/or legal guardians.



Most state laws require teens to obtain parental consent to services and mandate agencies and certain professionals to report any abuse that comes to their attention. Therefore, many teenagers are hesitant to share what is happening in their relationship with service providers, such as teachers and doctors. Teens may not want their parents to know about the relationship or about the abuse. They fear that their parents will call the police or medical professionals for assistance in ending the relationship. Although mandatory reporting laws may not apply to lawyers, seeking legal help may be difficult since attorneys may not be able to represent minors who are not emancipated from their legal guardians.

Shelters And Safety Planning

Many shelters are not equipped to handle teenage victims of dating violence. Therefore, teenagers face different roadblocks in their safety planning than adult intimate partner violence survivors. Safety planning may need to incorporate teachers, school administrators, family members, and friends.

Protection Orders For Teens

Protection orders usually only cover adult relationships. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia extend protection orders to teenagers. In some states, such as California, teenagers can petition the civil court for a protection order with the consent of a parent or legal guardian.

Adult Misconceptions

Research shows that adults often minimize the seriousness of dating violence. They generally fail to recognize the severity of the abuse. Adding to this problem is the fact that teenagers themselves sometimes mislabel the abuse as “passionate love.”

Self-Blaming and Peer Pressure

Some teens may blame themselves for the abuse. They may feel that others are judging them and the relationship. Gay and lesbian teens may not be able to tell others about their relationship for fear of “outing” themselves and the consequences that would entail. And some teenagers may stay in a relationship due to peer pressure.


  1. Dating Violence Resource Center. (2016). Teen dating violence fact sheet. Retrieved May 27, 2017, from
  2. Green, C., & Mohlenrich, L. M. (2005). Dating violence: Can teens access protection orders? Retrieved April 27, 2006, from
  3. National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. (2004). Teen dating violence: Overview. Retrieved May 27, 2017, from

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