Teen dating violence is real

  • Published
  • By Lawanna Barron
  • 23d Force Support Squadron Family Advocacy Outreach Manager

February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month. Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experienced physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. One in 10 high school students reported being hit, slapped or physically hurt purposefully by a boyfriend or girlfriend. One quarter of high school girls have been victims of a physical or sexual abuse, or date rape. Fifty-six percent of teens and young adults report experiencing abuse through digital and social media.

Dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. In most abusive dating relationships the violence escalates over time, and becomes more and more dangerous for the young victim. Dating abuse does not discriminate -- it does not see gender, sexual identity, economic status, ethnicity or religious preference.

Any teen or young adult can experience violence, abuse or unhealthy behaviors in their dating relationships. A relationship may be serious or casual, monogamous or not, short-term or long-term.

Teens and young adults experience the same types of abuse in relationships as adults. This can include the following:

Physical Abuse: Any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, such as hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon.

Verbal or Emotional Abuse: Nonphysical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking.

Sexual Abuse: Any action that impacts a person's ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion or restricting access to birth control.

Digital Abuse: Use of technologies and/or social media networking to intimidate, harass or threaten a current or ex-dating partner. This could include demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyber bullying, sexting, excessive or threatening texts, or stalking on Facebook or other social media.

If your teen or a loved one is in a violent relationship, please get help. If they are in immediate danger, call 911. The Family Advocacy Program can provide information and available resources by calling at 229-257-4805.

The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Information is available from www.cdc.gov/chooserespect. To chat with a peer advocate online, call 866-331-9474 or text "loveis" to 22522.

Remember, dating and violence should never be a couple.