Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February: Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Trigger Warning for Domestic Violence
One in 3 young people experience some form of dating abuse, and 1 in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Dating abuse, defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner, is a big problem. It affects youth in every community across the nation. The relationship can be serious or casual, monogamous or not, short-term or long-term. Statistics show dating abuse does not discriminate – it does not see gender, sexual identity, economic status, ethnicity or religious preference. 

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, which means we should start talking about Healthy Relationships and take action towards teen dating violence and prevention!

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month brings a national focus to the issue of teen dating violence, highlights the need to educate youth about healthy relationships, raises awareness among those who care for them and provides communities with a critical opportunity to work together to prevent this devastating cycle of abuse. The Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Initiative was started by teenagers across the nation who chose to take a stand and put a stop to teen dating violence. Supported by many national, state and local organizations, and with the help of their adult allies who also support the call to end teen dating violence, the importance of addressing this issue among young people was highlighted with a major victory in 2005 by its inclusion in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The following year Congress followed the lead of dozens of national, state and local organizations in making the effort to end dating abuse. Both Chambers declared the first full week in February “National Teen Dating Prevention and Awareness Week.” February began its dedication to teen dating violence dating and prevention in 2010.

Brenda Lohman, lead author and associate professor of human development and family studies at Iowa State University states that, “It is true that if you grow up in a violent household you have a higher likelihood of being in a violent relationship.” Teen Dating Violence often leads to adult violence because many teens do not report, or know how to leave an abusive relationship. The teenage group of 13-18 year olds is at risk because statistics have shown that they are the least likely group to disclose warning signs or abuse to a friend, family member, or trusted adult, and especially to report dating violence to the police. Teens who are in abusive relationships have a higher likelihood of being in abusive relationships as adults. Without adequate information and support, teens are likely to continue the cycle of violence into their adult lives.

If you see something, say something. Dating violence often happens, but many times peers do not want to say anything, and those in the domestic violence situation stay in the relationship without telling a parent, teacher, or friend what is going on. Another instance that takes place is when someone involved in a domestic dispute tells an adult, the adult at times does not know how to handle the situation. Loveisrespect.org has a curriculum that the Health Care Service Corporation is supporting that goes along with their Start Talking campaign. This campaign will help peers talk with each other about healthy and unhealthy relationships, and also with adults to mediate any dating violence situation. Watch how to ‘Start Talking’ about Teen Dating Violence here:

If you or a loved one is in a violent relationship, please get help. Visit loveisrespect for more
information, chat with a peer advocate online, call 866.331.9474 or text "loveis" to 22522. 

Yours in Advocacy,
Kayla Littlejohn
DCVLP Intern



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