Love is on the mind of many during the month February. February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and can serve as the perfect time to start the discussion with the youth in your life about what a healthy relationship looks and feels like.
In the U.S., one in three teens will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they’re in a relationship with before they become an adult. Dating can be an exciting milestone for teens, but it can sometimes lead to dating violence, both physical and emotional. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 percent of women and 15 percent of men experienced intimate partner violence for the first time before they turned 18.
Violent partners can be girls and boys. They often become jealous easily, have explosive tempers, isolate their partners from friends and families, make false accusations, appear bossy or possessive and will pressure their partners to do things against their will. Here are additional red flags that your teen is involved in an unhealthy relationship;
· Lack of respect: They’ll go along with something even if they don’t think its right, then feel bad about what happens when they’re with their partner.
· Controlling behavior: They always need to know where their partner is and what they’re doing.
· Feeling jealous most of the time: A little bit of jealousy is normal. A lot of jealousy or allowing jealousy to control what goes on between the two will hurt the relationship.
· Trying to change the other person’s behavior: “Its my way or no way.”
Studies show teens who are victims of dating violence are more likely to have problems with school, substance abuse, depression and social experiences. Signs of dating violence often start early. Parents can talk to their kids about healthy relationships in middle school, before they even start dating. Healthy parent-child relationships also lead to more satisfaction in romantic relationships. Adults can start by talking with your kids about;
· Setting expectations for how they wanted to be treated.
· Recognizing when a relationship is unhealthy.
· Supporting friends dealing with unhealthy relationships.
More importantly, it’s very important for adults to model what healthy relationships look like. When children understand what a healthy relationship is, they are less likely to accept dating violence in their own lives. So, what are the signs of a healthy relationship? Here are sings of a healthy relationship;
· Sharing common interests while having outside friend and social activities
· Respecting each other
· Knowing you are making each other better people
· Settling disagreements respectfully and peacefully
Teens who are in unhealthy or violent relationships are often afraid to ask for help. Visit www.loveisrespect.org or call this hotline; 866-331-9474 to learn about how to handle abusive teen dating relationships. Teens can also text “loveis” to 22522 for help.