February was Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. It is a national effort to raise awareness and protect teens from violence. We believe it is important to be aware of Teen Dating Violence all year round. Love has many definitions, but abuse is not 1 of them. 1 in 3 high school students will be involved in an abusive relationship.
Do you know the signs?
Teens and young adults experience the same types of abuse in relationships as adults. This can include:
- Physical Abuse: Any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon.
- Verbal or Emotional Abuse: Non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking.
- Sexual Abuse: Any action that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion or restricting access to birth control.
- Digital Abuse: Use of technologies and/or social media networking to intimidate, harass or threaten a current or ex-dating partner. This could include demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyber bullying, sexting, excessive or threatening texts or stalking on Facebook or other social media.
58% of College Students say they don’t know how to help someone who is a victim of Dating Abuse. Do you know how you can help?
Here are Five Things YOU Can Do to help:
1. Get the Facts
Learn the warning signs of dating violence and the legal rights available to young people in your state.
2. Start Talking About Healthy Relationships
Talk with your kids, your family, your friends and neighbors and your schools. It’s never too early or too late to talk about dating abuse.
3. Understand the Barriers to Getting Help
Teens who are in an abusive relationship may have a difficult time getting help for the following reasons:
- fear of hurting their dating partner’s feelings
- fear that the friend who they confide in will tell them to end the relationship
- fear of losing independence from one’s parents
- fear of getting into trouble with one’s parents
- fear that people will not understand, will blame them, or won’t believe what’s happened
- not knowing how or where to get help
- fear of retaliation from the abusive dating partner
- not knowing how to leave or improve the situation
- fear of being judged
- not trusting that what is said will be kept confidential
- not wanting to admit that it’s a real problem
4. Speak Out
Raise awareness in your community. Update your status on Facebook with this information.
5. Be an Advocate
Visit your local school and urge them to implement prevention programs and school policies vital to the positive growth of their students. Write to your elected officials!
If you or a loved one is in a violent relationship, please get help.