February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
The month of February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month! The purpose of Teen DV month is to raise awareness about teenagers and young adults that endure abuse in intimate relationships. The official week of recognition is typically February 13-19; however, events occur nationally throughout the month of February in recognition of this important cause. Find out ways to involve yourself in this cause in your own community!
Believe it or not, one in three US teens will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse with someone they are in a relationship before they even become adults! The organization loveisrespect is celebrating its 10th anniversary so they will be focusing on the Respect theme of Teen DV. They hope to raise conversation regarding this cause.
Studies reveal that teenagers are much more likely to reach out to their peers for support and not their parents. Therefore loveisrepect is hosting a variety of online webinars aimed provide information to young people about healthy relationships and how to support one another.
Get the Word Out
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and it Is so important that the word gets out about teen dating violence. More than 1 in 10 teens that have been on a date have also been physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last year. One of the most important things you can do is open the line of communication to someone you feel could be struggling in a dating situation.
If you have at teen you suspect could be struggling, here are a few ways to make a difference:
- Be a role model: Children learn from example. Make sure the relationships in your life are something they can look up to. Actions speak louder than words and if your actions send the wrong message, it becomes more difficult to explain why they should stop dating someone destructive.
- Start talking to your kids early: The earlier your kids understand what a healthy relationship is, the better. When they begin dating, the cloudiness of their emotions can overshadow bad behavior. Let them know the signs to look for in an abuse relationship,
- Get involved in your community: There are a variety of efforts that you can make to improve the lives of others in abusive relationships. Google local charities or woman shelters. Make it a family effort and find a way to volunteer for a great cause.
- Get Help: If your teen or someone close to you is in an unhealthy relationship, you need to get them help. If they are not listening to anyone around them, they may be too deep into the relationship to realize the destructiveness. If you are searching for professional assistance, call the National Abuse Helpline at 1-800-799-7233 (-SAFE).
Not Just Physical Abuse
One last thing to remember is abuse is not always physical. Abuse can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. It is important to look for signs that go far past what the eyes can see.
Kami Garrison, the education coordinator at ISAS, explains further:
“Violence isn’t only physical. It’s much more: verbal, emotional, control, stalking. There’s a lot of emotional abuse in dating violence,” she said.
Not Just a Girls Sport
Furthermore, girls are not the only ones who can endure abuse. Boys are also at risk for abuse and it is not uncommon for a boy to endure emotional abuse. They are also less likely to reach out for help. In the article, Garrison explained how girls can let jealousy go to extremes and constant accusations of cheating can be abusive over time.
“Boys can be subjects, too. They can be emotionally abused and controlled.”
Emotional and physical abuse is incredibly destructive. They do serious damage as adults, but in our teens, very important parts of our brain are still developing. That’s why it is so important to have a month like this to raise awareness.
Abuse can lead to destructive behaviors into adulthood like mental illness and addiction. If you or anyone you know is struggling with substance use disorder or mental illness, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.