February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month

ImageWould you be able to recognize the warning signs of teen dating violence? As a parent, you want to believe that relationship violence would never happen to your child. However, in reality it happens more than you would imagine, and it’s most often happening on your watch.

DID YOU KNOW:

  •  89 percent of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 say they have been in dating relationships
  • 1 in 3 teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships
  • 1 in 5 high school girls are physically or sexually hurt by a dating partner
  • About 10 percent of students nationwide report being physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months
  • Girls and women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence
  • Teen girls face relationship violence three times more than adult women
  • Only 33 percent of teens who have been in or have known about an abusive dating relationship report having told anyone about it
  • 1 in 4 teens who have been in a serious relationship say that a boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family; the same number have been pressured to only spend time with their partner.

Abusive partners maintain all power and control over the victim. This means isolating them from their family and friends – insisting that all time be spent together, and controlling what they wear and where they go. In addition, the abuser often monitors cell phone use and emails, and demanding contact with the victim at all times. If not compliant, the abuser may threaten to leave or cause harm, such as physical or sexual abuse.

Most often, teens think these behaviors are a sign of love and are typically unaware that their relationship is unhealthy. Because they are unable to recognize these controlling, possessive behaviors as abuse, the violence they encounter may lead to negative effects on their health such as depression, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, and even suicide. 

So parents, how do you know for sure? Listed below are a few warning signs that your teen may be in a violent relationship:

  • Distances themselves from their friends and family
  • Looses interest in activities they previously enjoyed
  • Constantly checking their cell phone and gets upset when asked to put their phone away or turn it off
  • Is withdrawn and quieter than usual
  • Is angry and irritable when asked how they are doing
  • Makes excuses for their partner
  • Has unexplained scratches, bruises and injuries on their body
  • Brushes off violent behaviors from their partner

As a parent, you need to talk with your teens about dating violence. Remember, just because in your eyes they are still your babies, in their eyes they are old enough to take on the world. Explain to your children what constitutes a healthy, respectful relationship, and always give them assurance that you are there to help keep them safe and happy.

Statistics from www.loveisrespect.org and loveisnotabuse.com.

RESOURCES

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. Hubbard House can help.

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 6,000 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.

By Lindsay Van-Zant

 

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