This month we are sharing statistics and tips for youth on how to prevent dating abuse and violence among teens. We also asked the experts on how youth can protect themselves from dating abuse. Jasmine Uribe from Break the Cycle, a nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles that provides comprehensive dating abuse programs exclusively to young people ages 12 to 24, provided us with valuable information for teens on how they can recognize the signs of dating abuse.
How do I prevent dating abuse and violence?
The best way to stop dating abuse is to start having conversations early and often. Talk to your friends or people in your inner circle about their idea of a perfect relationship.
- How does that person make them feel?
- How does that person show they care?
- What does your friend do to maintain a relationship with themselves and people who aren’t their partner while they’re dating?
- What are relationship deal breakers or signs to move on?
If you think someone you know might be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, it’s important to keep safety and help resources in mind.
First thing is to know the warning signs. Some common warning signs or things to look out for are:
- Controlling behavior, like;
- Who you can talk to
- What you can wear
- Making you text and call to check in – a lot!
Some more serious signs:
- Threats (physical, emotional or through technology).
- Any signs of physical harm.
If you know the signs, you’re more likely to recognize when something doesn’t feel right. Approaching friends might be difficult, but remember to approach them with an open, nonaggressive and non-judgmental tone.
Saying things like “Why do you stay; I thought you were stronger than this,” or, “If you don’t leave I won’t talk to you anymore,” only isolates, shames and blames the person experiencing abuse – it is never their fault.
When there seems to be imminent danger, it’s okay to reach out for help.
Calling 911 may be an option but you can also connect with a resource center or hotline.
If you can access a mobile phone, text “loveis” to 22522 to speak to an advocate. You can also talk to caring adults at a shelter and ask them to connect you to legal aid – physical and sexual assault are illegal and restraining orders may be available in your state under domestic violence laws.
Whatever way that you access help, be sure to have a safety plan – talk to someone when the abusive person isn’t around or on devices they cannot monitor. Once the abusive person knows your safety plan or a friend’s safety plan to leave – it is no longer a safe plan. Leaving is often the most difficult part of the relationship, It’s important to talk to someone if you or someone you know needs help.
Thanks to Jasmine and Break the Cycle for the valuable insight. For youth and teens who may be in need of help, please know that there are resources out there that can help. Consider contacting Break the Cycle, or the National Runaway Safeline at 1-800-RUNAWAY or 1800RUNAWAY.org if you need to speak or just to have someone provide a nonjudgmental, listening ear.
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