Dating violence affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Among people who have experienced dating violence, most people experienced the violence before the age of 25. One in three high schools students experience either physical or sexual violence, or both, by someone they are dating. Girls and young women are particularly vulnerable to dating violence. Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and depression, think about suicide, and use tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Advocates across the country join efforts to raise awareness about dating violence, discuss ways to prevent teen dating violence and encourage all communities to get involved.
What is teen dating violence or TDV?
TDV is defined as a pattern of abuse or threat of abuse against teenaged dating partners. It can occur in different forms, including verbal, emotional, physical, sexual and digital. TDV occurs across diverse groups and cultures of high school students.
This year the TDV Awareness Month Theme is “Your Love is Unique...with Consent”. Activists are working to remind teens that their love is unique and they deserve to have their boundaries respected.
Starting a conversation with teens about dating violence can be daunting. However, there are tools that can provide parents with a guide that includes open ended questions to get the conversation started. Check out this guide from Break the Cycle, a youth advocacy organization.
Here’s a few extra helpful tips for parents:
· Encourage open, honest and thoughtful reflection.
· Talk openly with them about healthy relationships
· Allow them to share their values and expectations for healthy relationships.
· Avoid dismissing ideas as wrong, instead encourage debate.
What are the warning signs of TDV?
While there are many signs to pay attention to in a relationship, keep an eye out for these common warning signs of TDV:
· 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
· Constant mood swings towards you
· Physically inflicting pain or hurting someone in any way
· Telling someone what they can and cannot do
· Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex
How to get help
Victims of dating violence should remember that it is never their fault and asking for help is nothing to be ashamed of. If you or a loved one are in a violent relationship, help is available. You can quickly call the national hotline at 866-331-9474. You can also text “loveis” to 22522. Victims of dating violence can also contact the Tennessee Statewide Domestic Violence hotline at 800-356-6767. Parents looking for help can call the 24/7 Parent Helpline at 800-CHILDREN.
For more helpful tools, resources and handouts click here.