In Texas, “dating violence” is defined as an act by an individual that is against another individual with whom that person has or has had a dating relationship and that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault or sexual assault, or that is a threat that reasonably places the individual in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault or sexual assault, but does not include defensive measures to protect oneself. (

Like domestic violence, dating violence typically includes a pattern of hurtful and controlling behaviors such as physical abuse (hitting, slapping, destroying property, driving fast to scare you), psychological/emotional abuse (yelling, name-calling, put-downs, threats), sexual abuse (forcing or coercing sex, unwanted sex acts, exposure to pornography) and stalking (following, calling or texting repeatedly, monitoring activity), which can occur in person and/or online.

  • 21% of female and 10% of male high school students each year experience physical and/or sexual violence from a dating partner.1
  • 22% of adult female and 15% of adult male victims of physical or sexual partner violence previously experienced some form of dating abuse as a teenager. 2
  • 29% of college women say they have been in an abusive dating relationship. 3 
  • Eight teenage girls were among the 146 women victims in Texas who were killed by male partners in 2016. 4

Dating violence has devastating consequences for individuals and the entire community.  Survivors experience higher rates of physical and mental health issues, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, eating disorders, substance abuse, and suicide. Youth who witness or experienced violence (at home or in their relationships) are at increased risk for victimization and perpetration of violence in future relationships.

Prevention works!

Adolescence is an ideal time to intervene to break the cycle of domestic violence and to prevent dating violence. The most effective approaches use multiple strategies to engage youth and the important adults in their lives including parents, teachers and coaches.

SAFE’s Expect Respect® Program was one of the first and most comprehensive prevention programs in the U.S. Its team of 16 counselors and educators serves over 14,000 students each year through a variety of programs and services. Expect Respect also provides curriculum and training to help other communities replicate the program.

You can make a difference

Parents — Safe and healthy relationships begin at home. Model and teach children skills to calm themselves, express their feelings in non-violent ways, and respect other people’s boundaries. Safe and supportive relationships are key to your child’s success in school and life. Encourage assertive communication, avoid physical discipline, and expect all family members to treat one another with care. Talk about healthy relationships and use media and real-life experiences as teachable moments.

Youth — Use your voice, creativity, and social media to positively influence your friends and classmates. Recognize that interpersonal violence, like other forms of harassment and discrimination, has no place in today’s world. Join other teens throughout the country who are changing the culture for the better.

If you are concerned about how you are being treated in your relationship, you can learn more about how SAFE can help.


  • Understand the power of positive relationships throughout the lifespan here
  • Learn more about dating violence, its prevalence, impact and prevention 
  • Guide youth toward safe and healthy relationships 
  • Become a youth leader, ambassador, or adult ally:
  • Get involved by contacting Expect Respect
1 (Vagi KJ, Olsen EOM, Basile KC, Vivolo-Kantor AM. Teen dating violence (physical and sexual) among US high school students: Findings from the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. JAMA Pediatrics 2015; 169(5):474-482.)
2 (Black MC, Basile KC, Breiding MJ, Smith SG, Walters ML, Merrick MT, Chen J, Stevens MR. The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.)
(2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll, Knowledge Networks, Liz Claiborne, Inc.
(Honoring Texas Victims Report, Texas Council on Family Violence,