Dating Violence: Why the Law Must be Responsive to Victims

Dating Violence: Why the Law Must be Responsive to Victims

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence recently published the following disturbing statistics regarding Dating Violence: 


  • Nearly 20.9% of female high school students and 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year.
  • A 2013 study of 10th graders found that 35% had been either physically or verbally abused; 31% were perpetrators of physical or verbal abuse.
  • A 2014 study found 10% of teenage students in dating relationships were coerced into sexual intercourse in the previous year.
  • A 2013 study found 26% of teens in relationships were victims of cyber dating abuse. Females were twice as likely to be victims as males.
  • 57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship.
  • Only 33% of teenage dating abuse victims ever told anyone about it.
  • 50% of youth reporting dating violence and rape also reported attempting suicide. This is compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.


  • 43% of dating college women reported experiencing violent or abusive behaviors from their partner.
  • Over 13% of college women report that they have been stalked. Of these, 42% were stalked by a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
  • 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted during their college tenures.
  • Date rape among college students accounts for 35% of attempted rapes, 22.9% of threatened rapes and 12.8% of completed rapes.

Because Federal law and many State laws narrowly define domestic violence as abuse perpetrated by a current or former spouse, co-habitant, or co-parent, dating partners are often left without legal remedies or protection, including access to protective orders and protection from gun violence.  

But statistics as shown above, show girls and women aged 16 to 24 experience domestic violence at the highest rate of any age group. Given the prevalence of domestic violence within dating relationships, communities must work together to ensure that victims of dating violence have access to resources and an increase in legal protections.

Advocates should champion legislation which will expand the definition of Domestic Violence to include dating violence and stalking; legislation to fund educating high school students about healthy relationships, sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking. College students should be afforded programs to increase awareness of domestic and sexual violence education, prevention, and intervention. 

Finally, by provide funding to local schools and youth-serving organizations such as schools and churches to train teachers, school counselors, athletic coaches, and youth ministers to recognize children and teens who are victims of intimate partner violence and how to intervene in dating violence and stalking cases.

The Law Office of Tahira Khan Merritt is a Trauma Informed law firm, based in Dallas, Texas. We exclusively represent child and adult victims of sexual abuse and sexual assault in civil cases. For more than twenty-five years, we have represented victims of sex crimes in civil cases against institutions, including colleges and universities, religious organizations, such as the Catholic Church, Baptist Church, Greek Orthodox Church, Episcopal Church, and Presbyterian Church, among others. We have also represented victims of sexual abuse in medical settings, group homes, schools, youth sports organizations, youth camps, daycares, scouting, and other youth serving organizations. You may confidentially contact our office at 214-503-7300 or through our website:

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Author: Tahira Khan Merritt

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