February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This month serves as a time for organizations and individuals to come together to educate young people about dating violence, warning signs of abuse, defining healthy and unhealthy relationships to prevent the cycle of abuse.
WHAT IS TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Teen dating violence occurs when one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through one or more forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. Teen dating violence affects both females and males.
While young people experience the same types of abuse as adults, often the methods are unique to the teen culture. Teens often are affected by technological abuse where they receive threats by text messages, email or social media sites.
Warning signs that your partner is abusive include:
- Extreme jealousy
- Constantly putting you down or calling you hurtful names
- Isolating you from friends and family
- Demanding sex or affection
- Demanding to know where you are and who you are with all the time
- Controlling behavior
- Unpredictable mood swings
- Threatens violence
- Physically hurting you in any way
- Checking your cell phone, email, or social media without permission
- Has an explosive temper
HOW COMMON IS TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Statistics state nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse in which they have been pressured or threatened into performing oral sex or engaging in intercourse. In addition, 80 percent of teens regard verbal abuse as a serious issue for their age group.
Less than 25 percent of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents. Communication should be an ongoing part of a parent’s relationship with their child and keeping the lines of communication open will allow for the teens to feel more comfortable discussing their issues. Sitting down and talking to your teens about dating violence can help them recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and encourage them to seek help if they or someone they know is in an abusive dating relationship.
Discussing dating violence with your teen doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. Ask how things are going in general and try bringing up the subject by asking what their friends’ dating relationships are like. Ask if your teen has seen any type of abusive behavior between dating couples.
Questions to help spark conversation with your teen:
- How are things going?
- What are your friends’ dating relationships like?
- Have you ever seen any kind of abusive behavior between two people who are going out?
- Why do you think someone would abuse someone they were dating?
- Why might a person stay in an abusive relationship?
- What makes a relationship healthy?
- How is your relationship going?
- Hubbard House: domestic violence center serving Duval and Baker counties – 24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119, www.hubbardhouse.org
- Rape Crisis Hotline: (904) 244-RAPE
- National Teen Dating Hotline: (866) 331-9474, www.loveisrespect.org (has live chat)
- Teen Internet Dating Info: www.loveisnotabuse.com
- Break The Cycle: The only national non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to ending dating abuse. www.breakthecycle.org, www.thesafespace.org
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119.
ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE
Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 5,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.