Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
That 17-year-old French horn player is getting slapped in the face by his girlfriend whenever they get into an argument. That freshmen girl is receiving unwanted pictures of the senior boy’s genitals and other sexual remarks on what he’d like to do to her over text, even though she’s told him repeatedly she isn’t ready for sex. The 16-year-old basketball player is getting verbally degraded by his boyfriend for talking to other boys on his team. The junior girl is wearing sunglasses indoors and putting on too much makeup to cover up the black eye her boyfriend gave her last night for wearing clothes he didn’t approve of. These are all examples of Teen Dating Violence, and situations like these happen more often than we would like to acknowledge. Preventing situations like these examples means taking time to become educated on the topic. Below will include important information and resources to know about “Teen Dating Violence.”
The Office of Justice Programs defines “Teen Dating Violence” as interactions between two adolescent individuals which include physical violence, sexual assault, psychological abuse, and stalking/cyberstalking. These different forms of crime can occur in person or electronically. Every year, hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the U.S suffer from some form of dating violence. The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) states, “Nearly 1 in 11 female and about 1 in 15 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year. About 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year,” (2020). Experiencing trauma and abuse such as teen dating violence can ultimately lead to more serious mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. If one isn’t taught how to cope with these conditions in a healthy way, they can begin to engage in more risky behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide (CDCP, 2020).
If you are a teenager, or have a teenager in your life, such as a child, grandchild, niece, nephew, friend, sibling, etc, you can help reduce and prevent your teen from becoming the victim or perpetrator of the traumatizing crime of dating violence. Think back to when you were a teenager. What did you think about? How did you feel about your relationships? Is there anything you would have liked to have known? What kind of support did you need? What kind of qualities in adults made you more likely to trust them? Thinking with your adolescent brain can help you start to develop the right skills to support and educate the teen in your life. And if you are a teenager, you can answer the same questions to start a conversation with someone in your life you can trust. Doing research and asking questions can better help you support yourself and support the teen in your life in making healthy choices for them.
Remember, life does not come with a user manual (if only). It is important to remember we are all trying to figure this out, and the best way to do that is together. Becoming a quality support system for someone takes practice and patience both with yourself and the person you are supporting. To find out more information on how to become a better support, spot dating abuse, and get answers to difficult questions please visit Healthy relationships for young adults | love is respect. If you or a loved one are in need of immediate support or in need of a Victim Advocate, don’t hesitate to reach out to Common Ground’s 24/7 Crisis Helpline and Chat line at 1-800-231-231-1127.