Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is a national effort to raise awareness of dating violence, promote programs that support young people, and encourage young people to have open conversations about what a healthy and happy relationship looks like. The term dating violence refers to the perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship. It is also when one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse/violence.
Dating violence can take many forms, and does not just have to be physical. The CDC defines intimate partner violence as “physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression (including coercive acts) by a current or former intimate partner,” (“Intimate Partner Violence: Definitions”). 1 in 5 girls have been threatened with self-harm by their boyfriends if they attempted to end the relationship. 1 in 5 college women also report verbal abuse from their partners (“Get the Facts & Figures”).
Technology is also an important factor in the spectrum of dating violence among young people. 1 in 4 teens in abusive relationships experienced this abuse over texting platforms or through the Internet (“Get the Facts & Figures”). This is especially distressing because according to the Urban Institute, “victims of digital abuse and harassment are 2 times as likely to be physically abused, 2.5 times as likely to by psychologically abused, and 5 times as likely to be sexually coerced,” (Zweig and Dank). Young people are becoming increasingly involved with technology and the Internet, so it is important for everyone to understand that these things can be tools of abuse.
Addressing intimate partner violence early on is important for several reasons. 69% of female victims of intimate partner violence and 53% of male victims reported having experienced some type of IPV for the first time before 25 years of age, indicating that said age group is either more vulnerable to IPV, or that there is a correlation between IPV experienced early on and IPV in adulthood (“Get the Facts & Figures”). Girls who have experienced abuse are also more than twice as likely to test positive for a sexually-transmitted infection or disease (“The Facts on Teens and Dating Violence”). Mental health also severely deteriorates in situations of intimate partner violence; rates of attempted suicide increase to 50% among teens who have experienced IPV, compared with 12.5% of girls who were not abused and 5.4% of boys who were not abused (“Dating Abuse Statistics”).
Unfortunately, many people are not aware of how prevalent dating violence is among young people, or how to address it. 2 out of 3 teens who experience abuse will not tell anyone, including their parents and closest friends (“Teen Dating Violence”). Of 82% of parents who said they could confidently recognize signs of dating violence, only 58% actually could successfully recognize the signs (“Dating Abuse Statistics”). Additionally, 58% of college students admitted that they would not know how to help a friend who was experiencing abuse and 38% said that they would not know how to get help for themselves (“Get the Facts & Figures”). Before we can combat the issue of intimate partner violence among young people, we must first educate ourselves as a society about what it looks like and how we can prevent it from happening.
Check out local DVAM events this month, such as the Prince George’s County Family Justice Center’s workshop on healthy relationships. If you or someone you know is in need of help, contact the DC Victim Hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC (1-844-443-5732) or one of the following organizations: DC Safe (202-879-0720), My Sister’s Place (202-529-5261 or 202-529-5991), or NVRDC (202-742-1727).
“Dating Abuse Statistics.” Loveisrespect.org, Loveisrespect.org, www.loveisrespect.org/resources/dating-violence-statistics/.
“The Facts on Teens and Dating Violence.” FuturesWithoutViolence.org, Futures Without Violence, 2009, www.futureswithoutviolence.org/userfiles/file/Teens/teens_facts.pdf.
“Get the Facts & Figures.” TheHotline.org, The National Domestic Abuse Hotline, www.thehotline.org/resources/statistics/.
“Intimate Partner Violence: Definitions.” CDC.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/definitions.html.
“Teen Dating Violence.” Just Say YES, Just Say YES, www.justsayyes.org/topics/dating-violence/.
“Understanding Teen Dating Violence.” CDC.gov, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016, www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/teen-dating-violence-factsheet-a.pdf.
Zweig, Janine, and Meredith Dank. “Teen Dating Abuse and Harassment in the Digital World.” Urban.org, The Urban Institute, Feb. 2013, www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/23326/412750-Teen-Dating-Abuse-and-Harassment-in-the-Digital-World.PDF.