Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. When we think of the term "domestic violence," teen dating violence is not usually the first thought that comes to mind. We think of married partners or adult partners who are living together with their children. When we think of the children and teens involved we think of them more as witnesses to the violence, but that is not always the case. In fact, teen dating violence is much more prevalent than most people realize, with nearly 1.5 MILLION high schoolers nationwide suffering physical abuse from an intimate partner each year.
What are the signs of dating violence?
Let's Talk Stats
1 in 3 adolescents in the US is a victim of intimate partner violence (verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical), exceeding the adult statistic of 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men. In fact, teens are more likely to be a victim of intimate partner violence than any other form of youth violence. Teens and young women are the most at-risk population for domestic violence, almost half (46%) of dating college women are victims of dating violence, and girls ages 16-24 experience the absolute highest rate of dating violence (3X the national average).
Abuse is a form of violence that never really goes away. The bruises may heal and fade, but many of the effects of dating violence are felt long-term. Being a victim of dating violence as a teen puts survivors at high risk of developing eating disorders, substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, and experiencing more/further domestic violence. Physically and sexually abused teens are 6 times more likely to have a teen pregnancy, and twice as likely to contract a STI than non-abused teens. They are also at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, which can significantly affect all aspects of a survivor's life.
What does counseling for a teen survivor look like?
Let's Talk Prevention
So what can we do about it? Spread awareness! An astounding 81% of parents do not think that dating violence is an issue! We must talk to our kids about what dating violence can look like and who to turn to for help. Only 33% of teens in an abusive relationship will disclose the abuse to anyone and part of the reason is that they may fear they will not be believed or that it is their fault. It's on all of us to create an embracing culture that supports victims and survivors of violence. That starts with spreading awareness and access to resources.
Community Education is a big part of what we do here at Denton County Friends of the Family. In fact, in 2017 we educated over 28,956 community members throughout Denton County. We offer programs about the prevention of relationship violence and sexual assault to all parts of our community. From our Bumbles presentations with children as young as kindergarten-aged to healthy relationship presentations for teens. We cover the whole spectrum of education for youth about teen dating violence, relationship violence and sexual assault. If you would like more information about scheduling a presentation or partnering with our community education team then let's get connected.
If you feel you or someone you know may be experiencing dating violence, please call our 24-hour crisis line at 940.382.7273 or 800.572.4031. Crisis line calls are an anonymous and confidential way to get more information and ask questions you may have been afraid to ask anyone else.
*Statistics courtesy of loveisrespect.org