Dating violence can happen to any teen in a romantic, dating, or intimate relationship. According to the CDC, one in ten teens reported being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a partner or were kissed, touched or forced into intimacy against their will by someone they were dating.
Unhealthy relationships can begin early and last a lifetime. Teen dating violence (TDV) is a pattern of controlling behavior of one teen toward another in a dating relationship. There are three major types of TDV:
• Physical Abuse – hitting, punching, slapping, shoving, kicking, choking
• Emotional Abuse – threats, name calling, screaming, yelling, ridiculing, spreading rumors, isolation, intimidation, stalking and using technology to harass or intimidate by texting, calling, and/or bullying or monitoring via social networking sites
• Sexual Abuse – unwanted touching or kissing, forced or coerced engagement in sexual acts
Dating violence comes with serious long-term and short-term effects. Many teenagers will not report it because they fear telling friends and family. Results of a 2011 CDC nationwide survey revealed that 23 % of females and 14% of males, who experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by a dating partner, first experienced some form of TDV between ages 11 and 17. In 2013, a CDC survey found approximately 10% of high school students reported physical victimization and 10% reported sexual victimization from a dating partner twelve months prior to the survey.
Teens are greatly influenced by experiences in their relationships. Healthy relationships will have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. Unhealthy relationships may have severe consequences and short-term and long-term negative effects on a developing teen. TDV can result in symptoms of depression and anxiety, unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and drug use, involvement in antisocial behaviors, and thoughts of suicide. Additionally, teen victims of dating violence are more than likely become victims as adults.
Communication, managing uncomfortable emotions like anger and jealousy and treating others with respect are some ways to keep relationships healthy and nonviolent. Friends, the adults in their lives and the media heavily influence how teens perceive behavior in a relationship. Unfortunately, these examples suggest that relationship violence is normal. There are risk factors that influence TDV, increasing unhealthy relationships for teens who:
• believe that dating violence is acceptable
• are depressed, anxious, or have other trauma symptoms
• display aggression towards peers or display other aggressive behaviors
• use drugs, alcohol or other illegal substances
• engage in early sexual activity
• have a friend involved in dating violence
• have conflicts with a dating partner
• witness or experience violence in the home
When families, organizations, communities and teens work together to implement effective prevention strategies, dating violence can be prevented. As with most issues, education is the key.
More information can be found on:
CDC TV’s Break the Silence: Stop the Violence. Parents talk with teens about healthy relationships before they begin to date.
Dating Matters: Understanding Teen Dating Violence Prevention www.vetoviolence.org/datingmatters. 60 minute interactive training.
• National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: www.loveisrespect.org (1-866-331-9474)
• NextSTEP of Central Louisiana: firstname.lastname@example.org (318-664-0277)