By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
For many of us the month of February represents the celebration of love- but did you know that it also represents the celebration of teen dating violence awareness?
While we may be aware that Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a public health concern, many times we fail to recognize the role that partner abuse plays in relationships among teens. Dating violence is simply a form of IPV that occurs between current or former teenage dating partners. Dating violence can be a complex issue and is not just physical. Dating violence can also include emotional or sexual abuse and stalking. Just because violence is not present during the beginning phases of a relationship doesn’t mean that it won’t appear in the future. Something as simple as jealousy or name-calling can quickly turn into a more volatile, violent kind of relationship.
In some cases in which dating violence occurs, adults and peers are unaware, or choose to ignore, that the abuse is taking place. By ignoring the issue, we reinforce the stigmas that are already associated with IPV and allow the abuse to continue. Teen dating violence is a serious issue that has lasting effects. It is imperative that we acknowledge and address the issue, even before it appears. The simple solution is that we start the conversation, and continue to talk to teens about dating violence.
Teenagers are at a pivotal age where they begin to develop intimate and possibly long-lasting relationships. Dating violence affects teens in a multitude of ways that go beyond physical or emotional effects. Teens who are in abusive relationships are more likely to struggle in school, engage in drinking and drugs, have disordered eating and continue these abusive tendencies in future intimate relationships (teendvmonth.org).
Here is an easy way to begin the conversation- take a look at these statistics regarding teen dating violence… and start talking!
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Matters Because:
These statistics show that teen dating violence proliferates our school systems and teenagers’ lives, yet is still underreported and misunderstood. Many times teens that are dealing with dating violence fear that adults and peers will not understand their situation. Some fear the stigma attached to being in a relationship where IPV is present. Other times, a teen may not even realize that he/she is in an abusive relationship.
It’s up to adults, parents, and educators to inform teens about the reality and seriousness of dating violence and model what healthy relationships look like. Teen dating violence is preventable, especially when we start an open and honest dialogue.