National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

Teen Dating Violence: Awareness & Prevention

Young people 12 through 19 years old experience the highest incidences of rape and sexual assault. Studies indicate about 10% of adolescents report victimization of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner during the previous year.

Girls are particularly vulnerable to experiencing violence in their relationships and are more likely to suffer long-term behavioral and health consequences, including suicide attempts, eating disorders and drug use.

What’s more, adolescents in abusive relationships often carry unhealthy patterns of violence into their future relationships.

Children who are victimized or witness violence frequently bring these experiences with them to the playground, the classroom, later into teen relationships and, ultimately, they can end up becoming the victims and perpetrators of adult intimate partner violence (IPV) themselves, continuing this dangerous cycle.

February is designated National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Your Capital Women’s Care team shares vital information concerning teen dating violence, including tips for educating your teen, recognizing signs and situations which can be detrimental to their health and well-being and establishing a sound safety plan in case of exposure to dating violence and abuse.

Dating Abuse Warning Signs

Dating abuse is a pattern of coercive, intimidating or manipulative behaviors used to exert power and control over a partner. It’s important to recognize the first instance of abuse is also construed as dating violence. Dating violence tends to be a series of abusive behaviors over time.

There are several distinctive signs you should be vigilant for to determine if your teen’s, friend’s or your own relationship changes from healthy to including unhealthy or abusive patterns.

Learn to recognize important partner behavior shifts:

  • Checking your phone, email, or social media accounts without your permission.
  • Putting you down frequently, especially in front of others.
  • Isolating you from friends or family (physically, financially or emotionally.)
  • Exhibiting extreme jealousy or insecurity.
  • Having explosive outbursts, temper or mood swings.
  • Receiving any form of physical harm.
  • Showing possessiveness or controlling behavior.
  • Pressuring you or forcing you to have sex.

If you’re concerned your teen is experiencing dating violence, watch for these signs:

  • extreme jealousy or possessiveness from your teen’s partner
  • unexplained marks, bruises or injuries on your teen
  • evasive, nervous behavior when asked about unexplained injuries
  • jumpiness and nervousness when in close contact with others
  • withdrawn behavior including avoidance of communication with others
  • changes in relationships with family or close friends
  • constant emails, texts or calls from their partner
  • depression or anxiety in your teen
  • lashing out when asked about social plans or activities including their partner
  • decreased interest in extracurricular activities or other interests
  • isolation from other friends and family
  • changes in appearance including clothes, makeup or hairstyle
  • and/or abuse exhibited toward other people or animals from your teen’s partner.

Types of Dating Abuse

Many often assume physical violence associated with abuse, but physical violence isn’t the only form of abuse. Dating abuse is a behavior pattern used to gain or maintain power and control over a partner.  Physical violence is just one example of such behavior.

Remember: no one deserves to experience abuse in any capacity and every type of abuse is serious.

Understanding common types of abuse will better prepare you to identify them when you witness or experience them; experiencing even 1 or 2 of these warning signs may be a red flag that abuse is present in your own relationship.

Some common types of dating abuse include:

  • physical abuse
  • emotional and verbal abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • financial abuse
  • digital abuse
  • and stalking.

Initiate A Safety Plan

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan to improve your safety while experiencing abuse, preparing to leave an abusive situation or after you leave.

It includes vital information specific to your unique situation and should help you prepare for and respond to different scenarios, including telling your friends and family about your situation, coping with emotions and various resources suited to your individual circumstances.

Some safety plan preparations might seem obvious, but during moments of crisis it can be difficult to think clearly or make logical decisions. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself and others during high-stress situations.

Share your safety plan with a trusted friend, parent or colleague and keep it in a safe place where you can access it immediately if necessary.

You can create your own personalized safety plan with help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Make a Difference: Reach Out to Teens

Community members can make a difference by reaching out to young people in a variety of simple ways.  As we interact with teens in our daily work or our personal lives each of us can act on eradicating teen dating violence by:

  • discussing all warning signs associated with dating abuse (all kinds, not just those relating to physical abuse.)
  • creating a positive connection to the issue. Talk about the characteristics of healthy teen relationships, including those involving intimacy.
  • talking about media portrayals of healthy and unhealthy relationships, as many popular movies, TV shows, commercials, books and magazines portray stalking as romantic or harmless when it is in fact extremely dangerous. 
  • getting involved. Classroom or team group discussions or school announcements all open the doors to initiating and acknowledging this important, potentially life-saving conversation.

Be an Advocate for Your Teen

As a parent, it’s important to help your teen understand what a healthy relationship feels and looks like. Your teen is forming relationships now that set the stage for future relationships. Given that 1 in 5 high schoolers experience dating violence, you want to be approachable, non-judgmental, respectful and trusting so your teen reaches out to you.

When talking with your teen, talk openly and honestly with calm respect minus any judgment. These tips for discussing relationships with your teen can help you build your teen’s trust should they require help.

These conversation starters about digital dating abuse can help you and your teen navigate potential digital dating abuse issues.

It’s also important to let your teen know how to be a good friend and watch out for others. These tips on how teens can be a good friend and watch out for bullying, aggressiveness, relationship abuse and peer pressure paves the way for your teen to understand the importance of relationship respect and establish it as part of their character traits, as they become independent young adults.

If you suspect your teen may be a victim of dating abuse, you are the most important resource and advisor for your child. If you need support, there are people and resources available to help. Remind your teen that he or she deserves to have a violence-free relationship and that abuse is never appropriate and never their fault.

If you think your son or daughter may be controlling, abusive, or violent with his or her partner, tell your teen abuse and violence are not acceptable and that violence won’t solve problems. Let him or her know when you truly care for someone you don’t hurt them or try to control them. Abuse is a choice and there are resources and counselors that can help him or her understand the consequences, the alternatives to violence and how to stop the abuse.

If at any time you feel that you or your teen are in immediate danger, call 911.

If your teen isn’t ready to openly communicate with you about his or her relationship, let him or her know there are confidential resources and trained individuals available to answer questions and help avoid unhealthy relationships. Let your teen know you are always available to talk, as well as share these important, confidential dating abuse resources:

  • Love is Respect
    866-331-9474
    866-331-8453 TTY
    www.loveisrespect.org

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
    800-799-SAFE (7233)
    800-787-3224 TTY
    www.ndvh.org

  • Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) Hotline
    800-656-HOPE (4673)
    www.rainn.org

Your Capital Women’s Care team of compassionate, knowledgeable health professionals are here to answer your questions and concerns about dating violence and abuse or any women’s health issue. We offer sound, expert care and treatment so you and each member within your family can achieve and enjoy a long quality life.

Sources:

https://youth.gov/feature-article/teen-dating-violence-awareness-and-pre...
https://youth.gov/youth-topics/teen-dating-violence/characteristics
https://www.loveisrespect.org/
https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/31/preside...
https://www.loveisrespect.org/dating-basics-for-healthy-relationships/wa...
https://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/types-of-abuse/
https://www.loveisrespect.org/dating-basics-for-healthy-relationships/in...
https://www.loveisrespect.org/personal-safety/create-a-safety-plan/
https://vawnet.org/sc/teen-dating-violence-epidemic
https://vawnet.org/sc/parents-caregivers
https://vawnet.org/sc/preventing-and-responding-teen-dating-violence
https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/talk-teens-teen-dating-violence/
https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/resources-events/get-the-facts/
https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/other-types/dating...

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