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Teen Dating and Violence

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (Teen DV Month) and October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Not only does violence affect the victim but it affects their family, friends and the community. We must all do our part to help protect our teens from violence when dating. There is a large amount of misunderstanding where teen dating violence is concerned and we hope to help people understand the importance of this issue.

In 2005, the importance of addressing teen dating abuse was highlighted in the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act, an important milestone for adult allies of teens. Congress then declared the first week of February ‘National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Week’. Then in 2010 congress declared the month of February ‘Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month’. Now in its third year Teen DV Month is celebrated by schools, student bodies, community organizations, parents, some government officials and others.

Here are some facts I pulled from the internet:

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.

  • One in three teens in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.

  • One in ten high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

  • One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.

Please check out the links in this text below as they highlight many important resources and great information on how to help the cause and support victims in getting help. It is important for victims and supporters to know the following points:

  • The abuse is never the victim’s fault. It may be tempting to focus on what the victim could have done to avoid abuse. It is important to remember that nothing a victim does invites or excuses abuse. There are many reasons a person stays in an abusive relationship. Liking the abuse is not one of them.

  • Telling someone to “just leave” the relationship is not the answer. There are many reasons why teens and 20-somethings stay in unhealthy relationships. For one, breaking up can be the most violent time in an abusive relationship. Without understanding the obstacles a young person may face and helping him or her through a safe separation, the situation usually gets worse, not better. Learn more about safety planning.

  • Take relationships among youth seriously. Even if a person is young, his or her relationship still matters. By assuming teen relationships are just “puppy love,” adults risk overlooking the seriousness of dating violence. Abuse among youth can be just as destructive as among adults, if not more so. Dating abuse can lead to unwanted pregnancy, eating disorders and even suicide.

  • Dating violence happens in every type of relationship and in every community. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, confident or shy. Anyone can become part of an unhealthy relationship and no one has a predisposition to becoming a victim of abuse. Victims do not begin the relationship with “low self-esteem.”

  • Dating violence isn’t just physical. Emotional and sexual violence can be just as, if not more, devastating to a young person’s health than physical violence. Learn more about the types of abuse.

  • Do not advise teens to fight back. When a victim violently lashes out against his or her abuser, the violence often escalates. The abuser may even take that moment to “prove” the violence is mutual and, sometimes, to press charges. Moreover, fighting back does not end the violence. It is much more effective to seek legal help or make a safety plan.

  • There’s never a point where you should “cut off” a friend who is being abused. Part of an abuser’s tactics is to isolate his or her victim. Without a supportive community, the victim finds it harder to leave the unhealthy relationship. Being a good friend, listening and supporting the victim’s decisions are the best ways to show him or her that there are alternatives to the abusive relationship. Learn more about how to serve as an effective ally.

We all know that there are long-lasting effects of any type of abuse. It puts them at a higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders and other types of serious issues plus further domestic violence. Not to speak of teen pregnancy and STD’s and half of youths that are abused or raped attempt suicide, compared to 12.5% of girls who are not abused and 5.4% of boys who are not abused.

For further information visit called Love Is Respect.

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