1 in 3 teens will become dating violence victims this year, data shows

Daniela Hurtado Image
Saturday, February 18, 2023
Action 13: "Teen Dating Violence" Town Hall
Join ABC13's Daniela Hurtado and community changemakers for an Action 13 town hall, highlighting rising concerns about teen dating violence.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's a frightening statistic: AVDA reports one in every three teenagers will experience violence at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend, often suffering in silence.

"That can include things like physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological aggression," said AVDA CEO Maisha Coulter. "It could be stalking, and other technological behavior, but all of it is to ultimately control the behavior or the movement of their intimate partner."

As isolating as these situations can be, these young victims are not alone.

This year, data shows nearly 1.5 million high school students in the U.S. will experience physical abuse from someone they are dating.

As we observe Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, Eyewitness News joined with AVDA Thursday to bring you an important town hall conversation, highlighting the warning signs and ways we can combat this abuse together.

Reporter Daniela Hurtado gathered leaders and changemakers to talk about what teen dating violence looks like, and the resources available that can save lives in Greater Houston.

In Harris County, 30% of homicides last year were related to domestic violence, but we seldom consider the tragic realities teens face in their own relationships.

"In 2019, the youngest person who was killed by an intimate partner in Harris County was just 14 years old," Coulter said. "In 2020, it was 18. It was 17 in 2021. So, it is critical that we understand that the types of consequences that we fear and that we don't want to occur can happen to our young people."

Data from AVDA shows violent behavior often begins in children between ages 12-18, and that women ages 16-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence.

During Thursday's town hall, we heard from teen domestic violence survivor-turned-advocate Jodi Thorgaard.

Thorgaard was just 16 years old when she met who she thought was her knight in shining armor, only to soon discover herself trapped in a very dangerous situation.

"I started isolating myself," Thorgaard said. "I felt a lot of shame because I didn't want, I didn't want others to look at me the way they were looking at me, because of the way he was treating me or the way he talked to me."

Girls aren't facing the abuse alone. Naila Hairston with Bay Area Turning Point told ABC13 that boys, children of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community are also victims.

"One in 14 boys have been physically abused by a dating partner as well," Hairston said. "The majority of African American teens, males and females, do not feel comfortable coming forward and talking about those things. A lot of times, it's because it's a cycle and abuse is generational, and continues to occur. "

You can watch the town hall wherever you stream Eyewitness News on your TV, like Roku and Fire TV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."