What is Teen Dating Violence?

Teen dating violence (TDV) is a pattern of behavior that includes physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse used by one person in an intimate relationship to exert power and control over another.

TDV is generally defined as occurring among individuals between the ages of 13-19 years old. Like intimate partner violence among adults, TDV occurs without respect to age, race, religion, socioeconomic status and sexual orientation.

What does Teen Dating Violence look like?

Approximately 25 percent of teens report experiencing TDV annually (Noonan & Charles, 2009). It can include emotional, verbal, physical and/or sexual abuse. In most cases of TDV, violence is used to get another to do what he/she wants, to gain power and control, to cause humiliation and to promote fear, and to retaliate against a partner (Foshee & Langwick, 2010).

How does Teen Dating Violence differ from Adult Intimate Partner Violence?

An article published by the National Institute of Justice discusses current research on TDV and concludes that there are three key differences between adult and teen dating relationships:

  • Abusive teen relationships typically lack the same unequal power dynamic found in adult intimate partner violence relationships. Adolescent girls are not often dependent on their partner for financial support and do not typically have children to provide for and protect.
  • Teens have limited experience with romantic relationships and negotiating conflict.
  • Teen relationships are more readily affected by the influence of peers.

Because the dynamics of intimate partner abuse are different in adolescent and adult relationships, it is important not to apply an adult framework of intimate partner violence to teen dating violence.


MCADSV is recognized nationally and internationally for its innovation in tackling the chronic questions and problems faced by local advocates in providing services to all survivors. MCADSV works in partnership with a diverse community that is developing services and responses to all forms of human trafficking in Missouri.  Our collaborative partnerships include trafficking survivors, service providers, faith-based groups, legislators, the Supreme Court and Attorney General of Missouri.  

What is human trafficking?

The complexities of human trafficking, in addition to a wealth of additional information and statistics, are well described on the website of the national advocacy organization, Polaris.  Polaris is a respected national leader in work to address all forms of human trafficking. The content below is from Polaris.

Human trafficking consists of both sex and labor trafficking.

Polaris describes Sex trafficking as one form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally.

Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion.

The situations that sex trafficking victims face vary dramatically. Many victims become romantically involved with someone who then forces or manipulates them into prostitution. Others are lured in with false promises of a job, such as modeling or dancing. Some are forced to sell sex by their parents or other family members. They may be involved in a trafficking situation for a few days or weeks, or may remain in the same trafficking situation for years.

Victims of sex trafficking can be U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals. Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers, including runaway and homeless youth, as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, war, or social discrimination.

Sex trafficking occurs in a range of venues including fake massage businesses, via online ads or escort services, in residential brothels, on the street or at truck stops, or at hotels and motels.

Polaris describes Labor trafficking as another form of modern slavery that exists throughout the United States and globally.

Labor traffickers – including recruiters, contractors, employers, and others – use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, or other forms of coercion to force people to work against their will in many different industries.

Labor traffickers often make false promises of a high-paying job or exciting education or travel opportunities to lure people into horrendous working conditions. Yet, victims find that the reality of their jobs proves to be far different than promised and must frequently work long hours for little to no pay. Their employers exert such physical or psychological control – including physical abuse, debt bondage, confiscation of passports or money – that the victim believes they have no other choice but to continue working for that employer.

U.S. citizens, foreign nationals, women, men, children, and LGBTQ individuals can be victims of labor trafficking. Vulnerable populations are frequently targeted by traffickers. Immigration status, recruitment debt, isolation, poverty, and a lack of strong labor protections are just some of the vulnerabilities that can lead to labor trafficking.

Labor trafficking occurs in numerous industries in the U.S. and globally. In the United States, common types of labor trafficking include people forced to work in homes as domestic servants, farmworkers coerced through violence as they harvest crops, or factory workers held in inhumane conditions. Labor trafficking has also been reported in door-to-door sales crews, restaurants, construction work, carnivals, and even health and beauty services.

Human Trafficking Resources

National Human Trafficking Hotline
Call this hotline to  report tips or request services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call 1 (888) 373-7888.  Interpreters are available in more than 200 languages.
For assistance via text, text “HELP” or “INFO” 233733.

Serving Human Trafficking Victims: An Introduction for Domestic Violence Organizations
This free recorded Polaris webinar will provide domestic violence organizations with recommendations on how to adapt services and policies to better serve sex and labor trafficking victims.

Human Trafficking Assessment for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs
This document contains questions that can be used by domestic violence and sexual assault programs to assess for potential signs that a service recipient has been a victim of human trafficking.

July 28, 2020 – On July 24, 2020 the Supreme Court of Missouri modified its earlier COVID-19 Court Operational Directives. These Directives will go into effect on August 1, 2020.

The modifications to the previous Operational Directives are as follows: 

  • The presiding judge or the chief judge has to make efforts to communicate to other judges and attorneys in their circuit the precautions that are being taken in response to COVID-19 and any related developments.
  • If any court employee, bailiff, or other court personnel currently working in a court facility tests positive for COVID-19, the presiding or chief judge shall move that court facility to Operating Phase One or Zero (see directives for explanations of all the phases).
  • Face masks are now required in all operating phases, except if a person is alone in a private office.
  • The presiding judge or chief judge may modify the terms of the operating phase their court is in to make them more strict than the Supreme Court Directives but not less strict.
  • A designated operating phase includes any activity being conducted in a court facility.

The Missouri Courts website has an interactive map that allows users to identify which phase their court is currently operating.

June 22, 2020 – On June 15, 2020, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in regards to three different cases set before the court last fall. These cases, while each unique in certain particulars, share the same outline of events: an employer fired a long-time employee after the employee revealed their LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) status. The Supreme Court looked to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in order to answer the question of whether LGBT individuals fall within a protected class.

 As this recent decision notes, “few pieces of federal legislation rank in significance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The Civil Rights Act of 1964 banned discrimination of individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in voting registration requirements, public schools, places of public accommodation, and in the workplace. Title VII of the Act prohibits discrimination in the workplace, specifically discrimination in regards to hiring, discharge, compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. 

The Supreme Court’s analysis specifies that its decision does not create any new protected category, but that discrimination of LGBT individuals is already encompassed in the phrase, “on the basis of sex.” The opinion frames the decision in this manner, “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and indistinguishable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” In practice this mean, if an employer would not fire a female employee for dating men, firing a male employee for dating men is discrimination. 

As a note, even if the employer cites additional reasons for the decision to fire an employee beyond their protected status, as long as their membership in a protected class is one of the reasons for the decision – the decision is discriminatory. For example, if an employer were to fire an employee for excessive tardiness, poor work performance, and being transgender– this would fall under a discriminatory practice. As such, the employer would be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

What does this mean for employers? It means now is an excellent time to revisit your organization’s policies and practices in regards to hiring, firing, performance review, compensation and conditions of employment. It also means now is the time to review human resource policies and practices around reporting and investigating claims of sexual harassment and discrimination. If an LGBT individual experiences sexual harassment or sex-based discrimination from a coworker, the employer has a responsibility to act quickly and appropriately. The Supreme Court’s ruling should be viewed as an opportunity to create safer, more equitable workplaces. 

June 26, 2018 – On June 1, the distribution of what is termed “revenge porn” became a criminal offense in Missouri when legislation went into effect after it was signed into law by then-Gov. Eric Greitens on his last day in office.

The law criminalizes actions that are commonly threatened and used by abusive partners, making it a felony offense to share, or threaten to share, private sexual images of a person with the intent to harass, threaten or coerce that person.

Elements of the new crime include that the person who distributes the sexual images got them “under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know or understand that the image was to remain private; and knows or should have known that the person in the image did not consent to the dissemination” (Section 573.110 RSMo).

The threat to distribute the private sexual images is a class E felony that is legally defined as when the offender “gains or attempts to gain anything of value, or coerces or attempts to coerce another person to act or refrain from acting, by threatening to disseminate an image” of that other person (Section 573.112 RSMo).

The legislation creating the offense of “nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images” was passed by the Missouri General Assembly as House Bill 1558 (Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron).

October 9, 2019 – We devote the month of October to raising awareness and support for survivors, and the advocates who provide life-changing, life-saving services in their communities. We also want to raise awareness about domestic violence by providing context about how history and theory inform the violence against women movement.

Theories about how and why violence affects individuals influence how we respond and create meaningful change. The theory of power and control is what we use to understand gender-based violence today. It identifies a pattern of abuse based on the lived experiences of survivors of rape and abuse. This type of violence involves tactics of power and control described in the popular wheel diagram (DV 101: Understanding and Responding to Domestic Violence, page 18), but gender-based violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Historically, violence against women, or gender-based violence, has been institutionalized and supported by societal norms. For example, in Missouri prior to 1991, an advocate would have a difficult time finding a legal remedy for a survivor who was sexually assaulted by her spouse because state law did not recognize marital rape as a form of sexual violence. At that time, our culture valued a traditional view of marriage that normalized a husband’s authority over his wife. Legislators had not passed laws that protected survivors of rape within a marriage, which gave power to husbands to control their wives without legal consequence. In a system based on sexism, there was no incentive for individuals to stop this abusive behavior.

Laws criminalizing family violence, including intimate partner violence, are recent; most passed within the past 40 years. This is due partially to a lack of recognition of the immediate and long-term negative effects of trauma combined with a culture of keeping private matters out of the public eye. However, private interactions between individuals are influenced by societal and community norms about gender-based violence.

Prevention involves educating to change the behaviors of individuals and their relationships with others while ensuring that the institutions in their community reject harmful policies and implement practices that are equitable and inclusive. An anti-oppression approach gives us a lens to shift unequal power and control, and provides a pathway to dismantle the norms that tolerate rape and abuse.