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February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Because of the subject matter, this post may be triggering for mentions of abuse and sexual assault. Also, though this post and its information is focused on young people, much of this information applies to relationships between people of any age! Here are some facts about teen dating violence in the U.S.:
* 1 in 3 young people experience some form of dating abuse.
* One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse or rape.
* Nearly half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.
*Eight states currently do not include dating relationships in their definition of domestic violence. As a result, youth victims of dating violence cannot apply for restraining orders.
*Eighty one percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue. Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse.
So what are the signs of abuse in a relationship? The same website offers these ten signs for young people in assessing their own relationships (note that these warning signs apply to relationships between people of any age):
Checking your cell phone or email without permission
Constantly putting you down
Extreme jealousy or insecurity
Isolating you from family or friends
Making false accusations
Physically hurting you in any way
Telling you what to do
Love Is Not Abuse offers this list for parents:
Apologizes and/or makes excuses for his/her partner's behavior.
Loses interest in activities that he/she used to enjoy.
Stops seeing friends and family members and becomes more and more isolated.
Casually mentions the partner's violent behavior, but laughs it off as a joke.
Often has unexplained injuries or the explanations often don't make sense.
Calls your teen names and puts him/her down in front of others.
Acts extremely jealous of others who pay attention to your teen.
Thinks or tells your teen that you, the parent(s), don't like them.
Controls your teen's behavior, checking up constantly, calling or texting,
and demanding to know who he/she has been with.
See the partner violently lose their temper, striking or breaking objects.
This power and control wheel shows many ways an abuser may use power and control against another person. It may be useful in examining a relationship, or in discussion with teens about these issues.
In addition to these resources, here are some others that may be helpful:
*Start Strong Teens
National Dating Abuse Helpline
Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network
Did these statistics surprise you? Did you grow up with a sense of what healthy relationships look like? Did you see or experience abuse as a teenager or college student? As always, this is a supportive place to ask questions or talk if you want to. You are invited to talk about whatever feels comfortable. Take care, superstars!