The History of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

February is nationally recognized as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TDVAPM). During the month, people around the nation participate in activities that promote education and awareness about teen dating abuse. This is a crucial time to talk openly about healthy and unhealthy relationships, warning signs and what we can do to lessen the frequency of dating abuse.

Why do we spend a whole month talking about teen dating abuse?

According to the CDC, one in four teens will experience dating abuse during this coming year.

Fifty-two percent of college women know someone who has been the victim of dating abuse (including physical, sexual, verbal, controlling and even digital abuse) according to the Liz Claiborne Inc. 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll.

If we know the signs of dating abuse, then we can recognize it when we, or a friend or family member, experiences it. If we feel comfortable talking about healthy relationships, then we will be empowered to be respectful partners and speak out when things aren’t right. If we know what resources are available, then we can guide a friend or even ourselves to help if and when we need it.

Education, awareness and intervention are key to stopping dating abuse. February is a chance to increase all three.

When and how did TDVAPM it get its start?

In the 1980s, domestic violence advocates nationwide began uniting to end abuse against women and children during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). The purpose of DVAM is to mourn those who have died because of domestic violence, to celebrate those who have survived and to connect those who work to end domestic violence. DVAM is celebrated in October.

So how did teen dating violence get its own month? Teens have their own unique challenges when it comes to dating abuse.

Teens may not have very much dating experience and so they base their ideas of dating norms on pop-culture relationships which, as we all know, are rarely good examples. Most teens are attending the same school or live in the same area as their abusive partner which means that it’s difficult for them to avoid seeing them (but not impossible… check out our post on How to Best Avoid an Abusive Ex). It’s also difficult for teens to speak out about abusive relationships because they may feel reluctant to speak candidly with adults who they do not trust. For most teens, the first people they will turn to when they are being abused are their friends.

With all of these differences, it’s no wonder teens get their own month.

In 2006, the national government officially recognized the first week in February as National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. In 2010, Congress announced that the entire month of February would be deemed National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

Who participates in TDVAPM?

Anyone! Students, teachers, community members, business owners, local, state and even national government officials can all do their part to end dating abuse. We’ll be posting ideas all throughout the month for what you can do to get involved.

Do you have any ideas for what you might do this February? Please share in the comment section below.


It’s Time to Talk 2011

We hope you’re ready, because It’s Time to Talk. On Thursday December 8, 2011, Liz Claiborne Inc. and its partners unite for the ninth annual It’s Time to Talk Day. Across the country, talk radio, government officials, domestic violence advocates, businesses, schools and the public-at-large will take a moment (or more!) to have an open conversation about dating abuse. This issue affects nearly one in three women at some point in their lifetime.

How can you start talking about dating violence in your community?

With friends: Help your friends start talking about healthy relationships by taking a stand against dating abuse. Use your Facebook or Twitter to start a conversation or let friends and followers know that they can come to you to talk about preventing dating violence. Post a status or tweet similar to “Have you talked about healthy relationships lately? It’s Time to Talk.” and include a link to a resource, like statistics on the issue (we recommend the 2010 fact sheet from the CDC) or post our phone number or text shortcode: “loveis” to 22522.

At work: Ask your employer to address dating abuse with your coworkers. Having a support system at work is important and may encourage someone experiencing dating abuse to come forward and ask for help. You can even have your employer post hotline numbers and these Love is Not Abuse educational brochures in common spaces so that they are available to everyone.

At school: While you’re learning algebra and physics, you should be learning about healthy relationships and dating abuse too. Ask your school how they are already educating students about the issue. Think your school’s program could use a little improvement? Check out the Love Is Not Abuse curriculum to prevent teen dating violence and see if they will adopt it.



Thanks From

Thank YouWe can’t believe how fast this year has gone by. We’re so thankful for the positive response to our new website and the increased communication with our readers on calls, chats and now texts. In the spirit of the Thanksgiving, we wanted to stop for a moment and share what we’re grateful for this year.

  • Our callers/chatters
    Asking for help is never an easy thing to do. We want to recognize anyone who has come forward when something didn’t feel right in their relationship. Acknowledging that what you’re experiencing doesn’t feel healthy is the first step to realizing what you deserve in a relationship and what steps need to be taken to get you there.
  • The friends & strangers who did something
    We also want to extend a huge thanks to anyone who saw something and said something. Whether you stood up for a friend or a stranger, you made a big impact by calling out abuse as wrong. Just by speaking out, you gave someone validation that they deserve to be treated with respect. Thanks for having the courage to be heard.
  • Supportive parents, friends, teachers, coaches and other mentors
    Maybe you were the first person someone told about their abusive relationship. Maybe you showed concern and offered an open, judgment-free ear. Maybe you taught about healthy relationships and mutual respect. Maybe you created a safety plan and documented any signs of abuse you noticed over a period of time. Maybe you helped someone leave their abusive relationship and supported them as they moved forward. Thank you from all of us at Abuse often cultivates isolation and loneliness. No one should have to go through this scary time alone. Thank you for being there.
  • Anyone who volunteered in some way to raise awareness about dating abuse
    Your contribution to the movement did not go unnoticed. By using your voice to promote healthy relationships and prevent dating violence, you are making the movement bigger and stronger. Anyone of any age and gender can take a stand against dating abuse. Thanks for everything you do to help us—we couldn’t do it without you.
  • Our new partner, Break the Cycle
    This partnership has strengthened our ability to reach the greatest number of people and educate them about how to have healthy and safe relationships. We are so excited about the future of our relationship!
  • Our loyal sponsors: U.S. Department of Justice: Office on Violence Against Women, Verizon, Liz Claiborne Inc., Healthy Care Service Corporation and mark, A Division of Avon Products.
    Thank you for everything you do that allows us to continue raising awareness and preventing dating abuse.

What are you most thankful for this year?

New Survey Reports 43% of Dating College Women Have Experienced Violence and Abusive Dating Behaviors

Nation’s Leading Experts Confirm College Dating Violence is a Much Larger Problem Than Anyone, the National Partnership to End Dating Abuse, Launches New Initiative to Combat Dating Violence on College Campuses Nationwide

Washington, DC, Sep. 14, 2011 — A new survey reveals dating violence and abuse to be surprisingly more prevalent among college students than previously believed. Nearly half of dating college women (43%) report having ever experienced violent or abusive dating behaviors, and more than one in five (22%) report actual physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of physical violence. Despite the high number of students experiencing these types of abuse, more than one-third of college students (38%) say they would not know how to get help on campus if they found themselves in an abusive relationship.

The survey, “Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” was conducted by Knowledge Networks to address the lack of data on dating violence and abuse among college students and

to increase the understanding of this problem on college campuses nationwide.

According to dating violence expert, Dr. Karen Singleton, Director of Sexual Violence Response, a program of Columbia University Health Services, “This survey expands on earlier reports and reinforces the complexity of the issue.” Among the findings are:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) college women report having been a victim of an abusive dating relationship in her life.
  • 57% of students who report having been in an abusive dating relationship indicate it occurred in college.
  • 52% of college women report knowing a friend who has experienced violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, digital, verbal or controlling abuse.
  • Further, 58% of students said they would not know how to help if they knew someone was a victim.

“The findings of this survey prove that colleges and universities need to provide a more comprehensive response and additional creative educational programs to address dating violence and abuse,” said Jane Randel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Liz Claiborne Inc.

The survey findings were released today, during a forum to educate students about sexual assault prevention and survivor assistance at American University.

National Dating Abuse Helpline and Break the Cycle Respond to the Urgent Need for Education

In direct response to these new findings,, a partnership between the National Dating Abuse Helpline and leading teen dating violence prevention organization, Break the Cycle, is launching an initiative to target college students with new, relevant resources to address the issue of dating abuse.

The expanded online content includes: Take Action (information on how students can get involved on their campus), Stay Safe (safety planning designed specifically for college students) and Help a Friend (information to assist bystanders). The survey shows that 57% of college students say it is difficult to identify dating abuse – substantive evidence of the need for increased education and awareness.

“It is our hope that with these targeted college resources, we can help increase knowledge about how students can combat the issue and ultimately, help prevent the prevalence of dating abuse and violence among students,” said President of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Dating Abuse Helpline, Katie-Ray Jones.

The resources are available, free online at

In addition, Liz Claiborne Inc. has created a college dating violence curriculum called Love Is Not Abuse, designed to help students deal with dating violence and abuse on campus. The first college curriculum of its kind, Love Is Not Abuse educates students about the dangers and warning signs of dating violence, offers lessons specifically on abuse via technology and provides resources where college students can find help on campus.

The Love Is Not Abuse curriculum was created by a task force consisting of educators and domestic and sexual violence experts from Columbia University, George Mason University, the University of Kansas, Virginia Community College System, Northern Virginia Community College and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) following the May 2010 murder of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love.

The Love Is Not Abuse college curriculum is available online, free at

Survey Methodology

Liz Claiborne Inc. commissioned Knowledge Networks to conduct quantitative research among students enrolled in four-year colleges (ages 18 – 29). The sample for this study came from the Knowledge Networks probability-based online panel, KnowledgePanel®. Online data collection took place between September 29 to December 27, 2010. A total of 508 college students (330 women and 178 men) were surveyed. The final sample was weighted using the Census Bureau school enrollment benchmarks for age, gender, race/ethnicity and geographic region based on the October 2009 Supplement of the Current Population Survey. It is statistically representative of all 18-29 year-old college students in the United States, with a margin of sampling error of ± 5.4 percentage points.


Five Misconceptions About Dating Abuse

You’ve seen it on Teen Mom, watched a few Lifetime movies, you’re an expert, right? Well, here at loveisrespect, as much as we are glad the subject of dating abuse is out there, sometimes these shows aren’t giving the full story. We want you to have the full story.

Here are five common misconceptions about dating abuse:

Read more


Did You Know?

Hi, Rachel and Nicole here. During our training, we debunked a lot of myths about domestic violence. Most of the facts really scared us for the callers and chatters experiencing domestic violence firsthand, but some were more surprising than others. Here are a few things we didn’t know before training. Did you know these facts?

  • Age isn’t just a number. Studies suggest that between 3.5 and 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually. While it is obviously traumatic for any child to witness domestic violence, children exposed during the first few years of development are likely to demonstrate higher levels of emotional and psychological distress than older children. This surprised us because it seems like younger children would not yet understand what is going on, but they are at a more impressionable state in life and a violent environment is incredibly harmful for their development.
  • Teens are more at risk than adults. A 2006 Liz Claiborne Foundation study found that teenagers have a higher risk of domestic violence than adults, though there are less available resources. Teens have often never been educated about healthy relationships and are coerced into abusive situations without knowledge of red flags or how to get help. We agreed that teens should be made aware of dating abuse prevention and healthy relationship promotion to help them recognize an unhealthy relationship before it becomes abusive.
  • The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the abused partner tries to leave. This was not what we expected either, but it does make sense. Think about it- if you’re an abuser who has been controlling your partner for the past six months, and then your partner leaves. The abuser is willing to do anything to get that control back. We watched this video that really brought home this point. It takes, on average, seven attempts to leave before a partner leaves their abuser for good and this is part of the reason why.
  • Pregnant women are twice as likely to be abused by their partner. There was silence in our training room after this statistic was read. The reason may be that an abuser knows the pregnant woman can’t leave as easily or he or she might need an outlet for the stress of having a baby on the way.
  • Less than 25 percent of teens say that they have discussed dating violence with their parents. Dating abuse is way more prevalent than we had thought, and parents obviously don’t know this either. Many times, one of our advocates is the first person a teen has spoken to if they’re in an unhealthy relationship. We’re always here, but parents can help us by talking with their teens about healthy relationships.

Now that we have finished training, we are practically certified in domestic violence and dating abuse awareness. Is there anything you would like to know?

If you or a friend may be in an unhealthy relationship, there is an advocate waiting to answer your call or chat.


“It’s Time to Talk Day” Reminds us that Everyday is a Chance for Change

Liz Clairborne recently hosted the 7th annual “It’s Time to Talk Day,” encouraging people to openly talk about dating abuse. In an event hosted in New York, advocates, media, experts (including part of the loveisrespect team), and legislators from across the country talked about what could be done to better prevent abuse and promote healthy relationships.

The awareness day and event remind us that too often we’re silent about this issue, one that affects 1 out of 4 teens. Even though today is no longer the official “It’s Time to Talk Day,” we urge you to speak out to your friends and family about healthy dating.

Liz Claiborne plans to expand their existing “Love Is Not Abuse” dating abuse education program to colleges nationwide and bring focus to the program’s materials that have already been launched at over 10,000 schools. If the materials are not being taught at your school, encourage your school principals to add them.

Watch a video about Time to Talk Day below. Keep an eye out for the interview with loveisrespect team member Melissa.


There’s Nothing Sweeter Than Support

October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), has come and gone again, leaving us renewed in our desire to help teens in abusive situations. There have been many great campaigns from the Pixel Project’s Paint it Purple initiative to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s PSAs with Salma Hayek. One DVAM activity that particularly warmed our hearts (and made our mouths water) was Liz Claiborne’s 2nd Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign supporting – you guessed it – loveisrespect!

Our friends at Liz Claiborne described the event like this:

Liz Claiborne Inc.’s corporate volunteering program (known as LizACTS) & Love Is Not Abuse (the corporate campaign to end teen dating abuse through education) joined together to promote respect & increase awareness of domestic violence and dating abuse among associates.

During the month of October, the company hosted a cupcake-gram fundraiser, in which associates had the opportunity to send ‘thank you’ cards to colleagues for a suggested donation of $1.

Each card, conceived by designers from within the company, had an uplifting message of friendship and respect. Cards were sent through interoffice mail and at the end of the month, each recipient gets a special treat, such as candy or a cupcake that comes packaged along with information about domestic violence and dating abuse.

Participants were invited to make a donation to and the Liz Claiborne Foundation will match that amount.

We at loveisrespect are so moved by their support. Check out the cards they designed!

Recognize that flag?

Thanks again to Liz Claiborne and those involved with this project. It was a *sweet* contribution indeed.


Teens Open up About Technology and Dating Abuse

Did you know? There are 67 different ways to abuse someone with a cell phone. Liz Claiborne Inc. and the Education Development Center Inc. are going into classrooms for conversations about technology and dating abuse. Diane Beni teaches in the program and admits that “kids know more than we do. And the middle man is gone. No one is calling the house. No one is developing photos at the drug store.” Click here to see what else Columbia High students are talking about in class. The program will be in high schools nationwide.