In February, during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, there is a national effort to stop teen dating violence in young adult relationships and promote awareness of dating violence prevention programs.
Teen dating violence is more common than many people think and violent relationships that begin in adolescence can affect young people in many ways. Often times, victims of dating violence will be at higher risk for:
- Substance abuse
- Eating disorders
- Risky sexual behavior
- Further domestic violence*
These problems can be compounded by the fact that many young people don’t talk about dating abuse they may be experiencing.
Peer and social issues are among some of the most noted issues identified by those who contact the National Runaway Safeline and can range from issues with romantic relationships to problems with friends and acquaintances. Having conversations with youth about what a healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationship looks like is incredibly important. For anyone working with young people, it’s essential to give them a platform to talk about characteristics of a healthy relationship and recognize the warning signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship.
NRS touches on this topic in Module 4 (Peers and Healthy Relationships) of the Let’s Talk: Runaway Prevention Curriculum.
Youth are given example scenarios and can place them on a spectrum based on if they feel a characteristic is healthy, unhealthy, or abusive. By giving youth example scenarios of situations that can happen in relationships, they start to recognize characteristics of many healthy relationships and begin to identify red flags that a relationship may be unhealthy or even abusive.
Does a partner support their choices and consider their feelings? Or does a partner humiliate them in front of others or try to control who they hang out with?
While healthy relationships are based on equality and respect, abusive relationships are based on power and control. There are very obvious forms of abuse that can be physical, but it’s also important for youth to recognize other forms of abuse such as emotional/verbal abuse, sexual abuse, and financial or digital abuse. Along with being able to identify these risk factors, it is equally important that young people understand that they are worthy and deserving of a healthy and loving relationship. No one deserves to experience abuse of any kind and everyone deserves a healthy relationship.
Hopefully by educating young people and everyone in the community about teen dating violence we can prevent abuse from happening and empower youth to build healthy relationships from the start. Let’s help spread awareness of this topic and stop dating abuse being it starts.
Download the free, evidence-based “Let’s Talk: Runaway Prevention Curriculum.“
*Statistics taken from loveisrespect.org. For additional information and statistics on dating abuse, please visit their website today.