Department of Family Services - Domestic and Sexual Violence Services

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

TTY 711

12000 Government Center Pkwy, Suite 339
Fairfax, VA 22035

Nannette Bowler,

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Banner - Love Shouldn't Hurt

Every year, about 1.5 million high school students across the country experience physical abuse from a dating partner. Fairfax County isn’t exempt from this problem. The 2016-2017 Fairfax County Youth Survey* found that more than 28 percent of teens in the county have experienced dating aggression. It is also known that 3 in 4 parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence. In light of these alarming statistics, advocates join efforts every February to raise awareness about dating violence, highlight promising practices, and encourage communities to get involved.

Teen Dating Violence

Defined as a pattern of abuse or threat of abuse against teenaged dating partners, teen dating violence (TDV) can take different forms, including verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, financial, and digital. TDV occurs across diverse groups and cultures.

Although the dynamics of TDV are similar to adult domestic violence, the forms and experience of TDV, as well as the challenges in seeking and providing services, make the problem of TDV unique.

Get Involved

Fairfax County is sponsoring a series of events to mark Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month because #LoveShouldntHurt.

5 Signs Your Teen Might Be in a Violent Relationship

  1. Bad Grades. School performance is often one of the first things to suffer when teens are in an abusive relationship. Rather than focus on grades, teens may be caught up in the drama of their own relationships. Dealing with abuse can make it difficult to pay attention to the tasks in front of them. If your teens’ grades suffer for no apparent reason, it may be a sign of an abusive relationship.
  2. Extreme Mood Swings. Fluctuations in mood are a hallmark of the teenage years. But extreme and erratic mood swings can be a sign of something more serious. An abuser may have trouble controlling his or her temper. Victims may not know how to process what is happening to them. If your teen is screaming and yelling one moment and quiet and remote the next, it may be a sign of dating violence.
  3. Isolation. Does one teen try to keep his or her partner away from others? Controlling behavior can be a sign of an abusive relationship. Teens in healthy relationships may want to spend more couple time, but this time shouldn’t be forced. Teens should achieve a balance between time spent alone and time spent with friends and family. An imbalance may signal dating violence.
  4. Physical Injuries. Unexplained physical injuries are often a red flag in abusive relationships. An abuser may have scraped knuckles or signs of defensive wounds. A victim of abuse may try to hide a black eye or other bruises with a lot of makeup or by wearing baggy clothes. If a teen regularly has injuries but doesn’t have a good explanation about where they came from, it may be a sign of an abusive relationship.
  5. Sexual Activity. Sex can be a normal part of a healthy teenage relationship. But every relationship is different and, many times, teens are not mature enough to have sex. Abusers may want to have sex to boast to their social peers. Victims may feel they have no choice but to acquiesce to sexual advances. If teens are having sex because they want control or fear the consequences of saying no, it may be a sign of an abusive relationship.

* Fairfax County is committed to nondiscrimination in all county programs, services and activities. To request reasonable accommodations or to receive this information in an alternate format, call 703-324-5730; TTY 711.