Teen Dating Violence: What It Is and How to Raise Awareness

Date: February 12th, 2016

Kelly Connelly

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). This month provides an excellent opportunity to not just raise awareness around this pervasive issue—one in three teens in the U.S. is a victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from a dating partner[1]—but to also demonstrate a commitment to ending teen dating violence and support the victims and survivors among us.

In order to raise awareness about dating violence and help prevent it, it’s important to know the basics. Dating violence can be:

  • Physical: hitting, slapping, choking, kicking
  • Emotional/Verbal: putting you down; embarrassing you in public (online or off); threatening you in any way; telling you what to do or what to wear
  • Sexual: pressuring or forcing you to do anything sexual, including sexting; restricting access to birth control
  • Financial: taking your paychecks; preventing you from working
  • Digital: sending threats via text, social media or email; stalking or humiliating you on social media; logging into your social media or email accounts without permission; forcing you to share passwords[2]

One basic fact to keep in mind, too, is that dating violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or background.

We are right in the middle of Respect Week (February 8-12), observed during TDVAM. As part of this week, people were encouraged to Wear Orange on Tuesday, and Healthy Teen Network staff were proud to take part. (See the photos and check out the #Orange4Love hashtag on Instagram and Twitter to see photos from others.)

There are plenty of ways to get involved in the awareness month. Visit Break the Cycle’s site for a list of activities and resources. On February 25, join a webinar on “The New Normal: Understanding the Dating Culture and Dating Abuse in Today’s Society.” Co-hosted by Break the Cycle and loveisrespect, presenters will discuss current trends and social and cultural norms from a young person’s perspective and will provide a toolkit that includes fact sheets, etc., on how to start a conversation, how to mobilize teens and young adults, and tips on addressing dating abuse. (Register online here.)

Also, be sure to check out these Healthy Teen Network resources:

How do you plan to raise awareness this month and throughout the year?

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About the Author

Healthy Teen Network Senior Marketing and Communications Manager Kelly Connelly, BA, is a graphic designer, photographer, and videographer, and she is experienced at developing skills-building workshops and programs, for professionals as well as youth.

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