February | Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Welcome to February ❤ This month is notoriously known as Love Month due to Valentine’s Day being smack dab in the middle of the month. Stores and adverts transition to warm pinks and reds with little hearts scattered about. Even classrooms get involved and decorate in a heart theme for the month! Valentine’s Day (formerly known as single’s awareness day) is a wonderful day for those who love love and romance.

Not many people know that February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
We are taking time today to shed some light on this topic and to start the conversation for those who are unaware of a major issue that is crippling our teens. To help get us all on the same page, being equally as aware of the relevance of this topic and how to step in and help, we are providing you with information and guidelines on Teen Dating Violence. All the information below is from respected and credible resources that we encourage you to check out for yourself. (links available to all resources!)

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Why is Teen Dating Violence an issue?

According to loveisrespect.org, One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.

They also shared, Eighty-one (81) percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.

It’s pretty clear, that this is an issue because it’s being treated as a non-issue. When 1 in 3 teens is facing an issue that people don’t even realize exists, this goes from being just a small issue to needing a whole month dedicated to building awareness.

What is Teen Dating Violence?

The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) defines Teen DV as a pattern of behavior that includes physical, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse used by one person in an intimate relationship to exert power and control over another.

They go on to describe what Teen DV looks like: It can include emotional, verbal, physical and/or sexual abuse. In most cases of TDV, violence is used to get another to do what he/she wants, to gain power and control, to cause humiliation and to promote fear, and to retaliate against a partner (Foshee & Langwick, 2010).

Are there signs of Teen DV?

We checked out breakthecycle.org for their warning signs on Teen Dating Violence. Keep in mind that just 1 of these signs doesn’t indicate that violence is present; however, it’s a good idea to know what to start looking for. Here is an excerpt from Break the Cycle:

Being able to tell the difference between healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships can be more difficult than you would think. No two relationships are the same, so what’s unhealthy in one relationship may be abusive in another. Although there are many signs to pay attention to in a relationship, look for these common warning signs of dating abuse:

  • 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
  • Erratic mood swings
  • Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling someone what to do
  • Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex

When & How do I step in? 

When to step in: The question that comes to mind is What if I’m wrong and this isn’t abuse? Our answer to this is But what if you’re right, and you’re the only one noticing the signs? If you suspect that someone you know is experience Teen Dating Violence (or any type of abuse or violence), the time to respond is immediately.

How to step in: Violence Prevention Works! gives great insights on this. First, you need to be aware of the risks for the victim. Be careful when addressing this because you don’t want to put them in more danger or harm. No matter what, listen to the victim. They are the ones who know what’s going on, and even if they aren’t open about their situation, by listening, you are already helping them. Also, have resources readily available. We have a list below that can really come in handy when trying to help someone out of a bad situation.

Resources for Teens, Parents, Friends, and Educators:

Phone Resources & Helplines

  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 866-331-9474
  • Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN): 800-656-HOPE (4673)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)

Online Resources

We certainly hope you are never in a position to need this information, but the statistics don’t lie. It’s possible that you already know someone who has been affected by Teen Dating Violence. Its our job as a team and a community to be aware of the signs and equipped with the tools to help. If you have any further insights on this topic or additional resources, we would so appreciate it if you would share in the comments below! Knowledge is power, and we hope you will share yours .

– the Wife

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