What is Teen Dating Violence?

Dating violence is a pattern of behaviors that one dating partner uses to gain and maintain power and control over the other partner.  Dating violence and intimate partner abuse are found in relationships between partners of every age, every gender, in every cultural and socio-economic community, and in relationships with same-sex and opposite sex partners.  Children and youth are dating earlier than we often think: nearly half of all tweens ages 11-14 (and over one in three 11-12 year olds) have been in a dating relationship.  Dating violence often starts when dating does, and continues into the teen years and beyond.  Sixty-two percent (62%) of 11- to 14-year-olds who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc.) by a boyfriend/girlfriend. [1]  This number grows to 80% of teens (ages 13-18) who identify the use of controlling behaviors by peers’ dating partners. [2]  These statistics are devastating and this abuse is happening right here, in Westchester County.

What My Sisters’ Place is Doing About Dating Violence

Since 1981, My Sisters’ Place has been working to end the cycle of violence among our next generations – the county’s youth.  Every year, MSP’s Domestic Violence Education and Prevention (DVEP) Program works with over 5,000 youth, providing over 450 presentations on Healthy Relationships at over 55 schools and organizations throughout Westchester.  All of DVEP’s programming is highly interactive, elicits thoughtful contributions, and is designed to engage youth participants on multiple levels.  Through these efforts, DVEP works to change the culture that says abuse is okay, and by stopping abuse before it starts.

Healthy Relationship Presentations

DVEP’s 1-, 2-, and 3-day Healthy Relationships presentation is our most recognized service and is provided to students in middle school and high school, as well as to youth engaged with afterschool and cultural programs.  Our presentations challenge the social norms that continue to support and perpetuate abusive uses of power and control, promote relationships based on respect, equality, and safety, teach the warning signs and patterns of dating violence and ways to help those affected by abuse.  To inquire about bringing DVEP into your school or organization for Healthy Relationship presentations, see our For Educators page.

Relationships, Empowerment, and Leadership (REAL) Middle School Program

DVEP’s REAL Program works with middle school students through an 8-12 session Healthy Relationships series.  In addition to our core topics, we introduce concepts of personal boundaries, communication approaches, conflict in relationships, sexual harassment, and leadership skills.  To inquire about bringing REAL to your school or organization, see our For Educators page.

Peer Discussion Groups

Peer Discussion Groups are designed to work more closely with youth at a high risk of experiencing dating violence.  In five-session, smaller group discussions, DVEP staff have the opportunity to engage participants in deeper and more complex dialogue of the topics in DVEP’s healthy relationship presentations.  For more information or to inquire about scheduling a Peer Discussion Group at your school or organization, see our For Educators page.

Students Advocating for Equality in Relationships (SAFER) Volunteer and Leadership Program

Over 50 youth volunteer with DVEP through our SAFER program, in which volunteers from across Westchester gather to meet and work together with their peers as leaders, allies, and activists.  DVEP staff provide further education about dating violence and intimate partner abuse for the volunteers.  After this additional training, volunteers engage in leadership-building projects, contribute to the development of DVEP materials, and participate in advocacy-oriented efforts aimed at increasing awareness of dating violence in their schools, families, and communities.  For more information about SAFER, please see our SAFER volunteer page.

Parents Talk

Parents Talk is an informative presentation exploring how parents can help their kids navigate technology, pop culture, friendships, and dating. The goal is to provide parents with information and resources to promote health and safety in their children’s relationships as they go from kindergarten through college. Parents Talk events are available to all parents, educators, or community organizers that are interested in this topic.

Summer Institute

Summer Institute is a free 5 day leadership retreat for Westchester County teens who want to end dating and domestic violence.
It’s is a phenomenal opportunity for youth to learn more about teen dating violence, social justice (racism, classism, sexism, and LGBTQ issues), media, activism and how you can make a difference in your community.  Stay tuned for details about Summer Institute 2017!

Individual Counseling for Victims of Teen Dating Violence

The Manager of the DVEP Program works one-on-one with teens who have experienced or are experiencing dating violence.  Support, safety planning, education, information, and additional needed resources are all provided free of cost.

For more information on any of our DVEP programs, please contact email hidden; JavaScript is required or at (914) 358-0333.

[1] Liz Claiborne Inc. (2008). Tween & Teen Dating Violence & Abuse Study.
[2] Liz Claiborne Inc. and Family Violence Prevention Fund (2009).  Teen Dating Abuse Report 2009: Impact of the Economy and Parent/Teen Dialogue on Dating Relationships and Abuse.