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What is it like to talk to an adult about dating?

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Each February, The Retreat honors Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month because dating violence among teens is more common than people think.

  • 26% of women and 15% of men experience intimate partner violence for the first time before the age of 18.
  • 1 in 11 young women and 1 in 15 young men reported experiencing physical dating violence in the last year.
  • 1 in 3 dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, email, or social network passwords. These students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.
  • Teen girls who are being physically or sexually abused are 6 times more like to become pregnant and twice as like to get a sexually transmitted infection.
  • Sexual, racial, and ethnic minority groups are disproportionally affected by all forms of violence.

As a friend, parent, relative, or teacher you can start a conversation about dating and relationships with the teens in your life. Here are some conversation starters.

  • Are any of your friends seeing each other? How do they behave towards one another?
  • What’s the culture like at your school in regards to dating? What would you change?
  • What is your opinion about sexting? What is uncool to do and what is acceptable?
  • When do you feel safest, healthiest, and most supported in your close relationships (dating or otherwise)? What can those people do to encourage positive feelings? What can you do?
  • What is it like to talk about dating with adults in your life?
  • Has there been a time when you have felt disrespected by a significant other, online or offline? How did you respond?
  • What is it like for you when you notice a friend’s significant other is not treating them well? What do you do?
  • I noticed that you and your friend aren’t seeing each other anymore, did something happen between you?

The Retreat’s Education Department can give you more information on how to talk to teens, provide resources for teens and their adults, and provide workshops to classes and community groups. They can be reached at

Questions provided by Fact Forward and the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

Statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control.

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