Author’s note: This article discusses dating violence and abuse.
The prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses has been a major topic in media and politics. But the truth is violence can happen at any age. February is dedicated towards raising awareness about teen dating violence.
Teen dating violence is not only physical abuse and sexual pressure, but also any emotional or physical exertion of dominance. As reported by Teenage Research Unlimited, “Cell phone calls and texting at unimaginable frequency mean constant control day and night” and also means that parents are often unaware of their teens’ interactions with their partner, and by extension, the abuse they may be experiencing.
In many cases abuse is also happening at an earlier age. According to Break the Cycle, abuse can often start as early as age 11, and alarming, “data has revealed an alarming correlation between early sexual experiences and teen dating violence and abuse.”
Additionally, teens in abusive relationships have few resources to turn to. 81% of parents believe teen dating abuse is not an issue, and 80% of high school counselors report being unprepared to deal with teen dating abuse on campus.
The goal of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the issue and the need to improve resources to help prevent further abuse. To find out more about events going on for the month, check out Love is Respect, which is hosting webinars, podcasts, and hosting a Wear Orange Day to spread awareness.
But the best way to contribute to Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is to be the support for someone in your life who you think may be in an abusive relationship. While it may not seem like your place to intervene in someone else’s relationship, your actions as a friend, parent or educator can make all the difference.
If you think you’re in an abusive relationship, find help in some of the links and resources below.
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- Break the Cycle
- A Thin Line, for information about digital abuse.
- Center for Disease Control Dating Matters Initiative: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships
If you think your friend is being abused or might even be the abuser, Love Is Respect has great tips and guidelines to help you help someone else.
Teaching your child to prevent dating abuse, and supporting a child who has endured it can be difficult. For additional resource guides check:
- Break the Cycle: A Parent’s Guide to Teen Dating Violence – 10 Questions to Start the Conversation
- What Is Love: A Parent’s Guide – When Should Parents Start Talking to Their Teen About Dating?
- Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness
- Love is Respect
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: Is Your Teenage Child Being Abused?
COVER IMAGE COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK.