What is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month?
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. According to Youth.Gov, it is estimated that 1 in 10 teens will experience dating violence. Nationwide, youth ages 12-19 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault. Teen dating violence may impact a victim’s physical, behavioral, and mental health and may even extend to those around them. Parents, teachers, friends, and communities as a whole are impacted by teen dating violence and it is important to take this time each year to break the cycle of violence. This can be accomplished by providing support and services to victims and their families as well as through education to our communities.
What to Look Out For:
Although all relationships are different, it is important to talk to young people about how to identify abusive behavior and what it means to set healthy boundaries. Being able to communicate what is healthy in a relationship and what is not can go a long way in helping to prevent teen dating violence. Here are some common warning signs of an unhealthy and possibly abusive relationship, as identified by Breakthecycle.org:
- Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Constant belittling or put-downs
- Explosive temper
- Isolation from family and friends
- Making false accusations
- Constant mood swings towards you
- Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
- Telling someone what they can and cannot do
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
According to Loveisrespect.org: “Dating abuse is all about a pattern of coercive, intimidating, or manipulative behaviors used to control a partner. While they [we] define dating violence as a pattern, that doesn’t mean the first instance of abuse isn’t also dating violence; they [we] simply recognize that dating violence tends to involve a series of abusive behaviors over the course of time”.
Regardless of how you define your current relationship, setting and respecting boundaries is essential to any and all relationships. Everyone needs to feel comfortable communicating their needs without fear of how the other person will react. If a partner is minimizing needs and concerns, they are not showing the respect necessary to have a healthy relationship. For more information on how to set healthy emotional, physical, and digital boundaries and for tips on conflict resolution, visit Loveisrespect.org.
What you can do:
It is important that young people feel empowered to advocate for their needs and learn how to set boundaries in relationships. Educating yourself on the warning signs of teen dating violence and the resources available to help teens is an important first step in identifying these behaviors and offering support to someone in need. Everyone can contribute in the goal to break the cycle of abuse. If you are concerned about behaviors you are observing in a relationship, don’t hesitate to reach out and offer support. If the individual is not ready to leave the relationship, try offering them some helpful resources:
Loveisrespect.org – where they can take a quiz to see if their relationship is healthy and get advice on how to identify and navigate potentially unhealthy or abusive relationships. They can also chat live with someone about their relationship.
Breakthecycle.org – where they can read about warning signs of abuse and get culturally sensitive guidance
Text LOVEIS to 22522 or Call 1.866.331.9474 to connect with the National Dating Abuse Hotline.
Remember…There is hope at Aurora
If you or a loved one are experiencing mental health or addiction symptoms that are concerning or worry you, Aurora is here to help. Our caring team of professionals takes a holistic and authentic approach while providing expert psychiatric care for teens and adults. For more information or to schedule a free confidential assessment, call our 24/7 Admissions Line at 877.870.7012.