Facts About Teen Dating ViolenceFeb 13, 2022
Nearly 10% of all teenagers throughout the U.S. have experienced some form of violence in a dating situation. When we think of abuse in relationships, we mostly think of physical violence, but that is only one part of dating violence. Many teens are also sexually abused, psychologically abused, or stalked. I want to share what I’ve learned about the extent of the problem, the signs that abuse may be happening to someone you love, and small actions that any of us can take to help.
The immediate effects of violence are damaging enough, but we can’t ignore the potential long term effects. Teens who have experienced dating violence are more likely than those who haven’t to later experience a whole hosts of issues including depression and anxiety. They are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol. It’s not uncommon for victims of teen dating violence to themselves begin to engage in antisocial behaviors like lying, theft, bullying, or being physically violent toward others. Many think about suicide.
Victims often experience problems in future relationships, believing that what they’ve been through is “normal” for intimate partner relationships. Would it surprise you to know that teens who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for abuse during college? It can easily become a cycle that these teens feel trapped in even as they become adults.
How can you tell if someone you love is experiencing teen dating violence? Every situation is different, but here are some common red flags:
- Extreme changes in personal grooming habits (suddenly wears much more makeup than usual or stops wearing makeup altogether)
- Is constantly checked up on by dating partner
- Drastically spends less time with with family and friends
- School performance suffers
- Sudden inability to concentrate
- Makes excuses for their dating partner’s behavior
If you know someone who might be in an abusive relationship, there are ways you can help.
An easy first step is to simply tell the person that you are worried about them and ask if they’d like to talk about anything. Listen more than you talk, and ask what help they need rather than assuming you know. Let them know they aren’t alone and you are there when they need you.
If you are the parent or guardian of someone in an abusive dating relationship, help them set boundaries. Tell them they are not allowed to share passwords for their phone or social media sites (which abusers often demand so they can keep tabs on their dating partner). Have them turn off their phone or put it in another room when you are doing family activities. Let them know that whoever they are dating is only a PART of their life - not their whole life.
Relationship violence is NEVER okay. It only takes a few moments to educate ourselves about the problem, check the people we know for signs that abuse may be happening, and take a small step to help someone in need.
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