Teen Dating Violence

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

Dating in itself should be a great experience for all of us. However, some experiences are shattered by their significant other. CDC defines dating violence “as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking”. The most vulnerable when it comes to dating violence are teenagers. They do not share their problems with anyone that can help them, sometimes they even keep it from their friends because they are afraid of retaliation from their partners.

In 2017 the CDC reported that “approximately 7% of women and 4% of men who ever experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner first experienced some form of partner violence by that partner before 18 years of age.”

The following are different ways to describe teen dating violence, according to the CDC:

  • Dating abuse
  • Relationship violence
  • Intimate partner violence
  • Relationship abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Domestic abuse

Why teens think violence in their relationship is normal?

Most likely they have experienced this type of abuse first-hand with their parents. Either the mother or father was the abuser at home growing up and that relationship has a greater influence on them. Between 11 years old and 18 years old teens are still developing emotionally, therefore, that is when they should have better relationship examples to avoid unhealthy relationships in the future.

Unhealthy relationships have a negative effect on a teen in the long run, which translates into the following:

  • Develop unhealthy behavior such as tobacco, drug use, and alcohol.
  • Involvement in antisocial behaviors
  • Symptoms of depression
  • Thoughts of suicide

When I was in college I was part of a student-run program called “Lifestyles Center”. As a group we used to take turns to walk around campus engaging in conversation with the students and getting some feedback about certain health and wellness topics. Dating and Domestic Violence was just one of the most taboo topic we had to talk about with freshman students. Seniors were a little more open about the topic being that our program runs throughout the school year and talks about this and other important topics every semester.

Teenagers that were victims of dating violence in high school are more likely to be victimized during college years. The victim can be either the girlfriend or boyfriend. That is the reason why some freshman students feel uneasy to talk about the topic. Boys are usually the ones that would not admit they are being abuse by their significant other.

Warning Signs:

When you are in a relationship it is difficult to tell when it is a healthy, unhealthy or abusive one. Take a look at the warning signs shown below (taken from the www.breakthecycle.org website):

  • Constant belittling or put-downs
  • Explosive temper
  • Possessiveness
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
  • Telling someone what to do
  • Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
  • Constant mood swings towards you
  • Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission

Another way to see the types of abuse/violence in a relationship is shown below with the infographic created by the Break the Cycle organization.

Types of Abuse

Now that you read the signs make sure that you also take the quizzes created by the Break the Cycle following this link: http://www.breakthecycle.org/quizzes.

Break the cycle also mentions that a study made by Tween and Teen Dating Violence and Abuse published in July 8, 2008, shows that dating relationships and abuse starts at an early age of 11.

How to help a friend?

Most people wants to be listened to and sometimes that is all it takes to have someone share with us their problems. But, what do you say to help the person sharing their experience?

Tell them:

“I believe in you”.

“You don’t deserve this. You deserve to be treated with respect”.

“I am here if you need me or ever want to talk”.

“Thank you for trusting me”

“It’s not your fault”.

“This is important”.

“I am glad you told me”.

“I want you to be safe”.

“What do you need?”

This is an important topic that should be talk about more often, that way tweens and teens are aware of this problem and can prevent it. If you are a parent please talk to your kids and set good healthy relationships examples.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

Remember teen dating abuse is #notjustphysical and don’t forget that #controlisntlove

I hope this information helps you. If you find this article to be helpful, please make sure to share it with friends and family!

For more information or to find help on this topic in New York, please call: 1-800-942-6906

If the above phone number doesn’t apply to you, please call:

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453 (TTY)

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

National Hotline for Crime Victims: 1-855-4-VICTIM (1855-484-2846)

Thank you in advance for bringing awareness on this topic!

Sara S.

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