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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Did you know 1 in 3 U.S. teens will encounter physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from a relationship partner before reaching adulthood?

Throughout February, individuals nationwide unite to raise awareness about teen dating violence as part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). This month-long initiative strives to advocate for and educate people to prevent dating abuse. Sometimes, the differences between healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships can be hard to see.

Below Are a Few Teen Dating Red Flags To Look Out For:

Excessive Jealousy, Insecurity, and Controlling Behavior: If your partner exhibits intense jealousy and seeks to control your interactions, it may indicate an unhealthy dynamic. A supportive partner should embrace your individuality and allow you to exist independently in society.

Isolation from Friends and Family: If your partner distances you from your loved ones, this could be a concerning sign of abuse. A supportive partner should encourage time spent with your friends and family.

Unwanted Sexual Advances: A warning sign of an unhealthy or abusive relationship is your partner pressuring you into things you are not comfortable with. A healthy partner respects your sexual boundaries.

Explosive Temper and Fits of Rage: If your partner resorts to yelling, screaming, or fits of rage during disagreements, this could be a warning sign of abuse. Communication is a very important aspect of a healthy relationship.

Unusual Moodiness: If your partner’s moods are constantly disrupting and affecting your relationship, this could be a red flag.

Threatening Physical Violence: Physical violence or threats of violence is never okay.

Invasion of Privacy: Does your partner show up at your home or work unannounced? Do they go through your phone and demand to track you using GPS? Healthy relationships involve trust and boundaries. Your partner should allow you to be an individual.

Monitoring Social Media and Text Messages: A healthy partner should respect your privacy and trust you. If your partner asks for your phone or social media passwords, it could be a red flag.

Teen dating violence can present itself in a variety of forms. Abusers will often try to downplay their abusive behaviors by saying they just love you so much and want to spend all their time with you or keep an eye on you. However, constant monitoring and tracking does not allow for two individuals to grow together with love and respect. If these patterns sound familiar, you may be a victim of teen dating violence. Everyone deserves a healthy relationship.

Why Our Partners Can’t Be Our Everything

The idea that our partners can be “everything” to us can be unhealthy because it places unrealistic expectations on our partner, on ourselves, and the relationship in its entirety. While strong partnerships can offer support, companionship, and understanding, expecting one person to fulfill every emotional, social, and practical need can be very unhealthy.

People are complex, with diverse interests and needs, and it’s important to have a network of relationships that contribute to various aspects of our lives. Friends, family members, and teammates, for instance, can provide support and fulfillment in ways that a partner might not. Depending entirely on one person for all our needs can strain the relationship and create an unhealthy power dynamic. It’s essential to recognize that you have your own purpose and deserve to exist for yourself, independent of others.

What is Love Bombing in a Teenage Relationship?

Love bombing is a manipulative tactic often used in the early stages of a romantic relationship. It involves overwhelming someone with excessive affection and attention to gain control over them. This initial bombardment of affectionate gestures, compliments, etc. creates a sense of euphoria and attachment.

However, love bombing is not genuine love. This unhealthy behavior makes it more challenging for the target to recognize or escape from the manipulative dynamics that may follow. Love bombing can be a red flag in relationships, and it’s important for individuals to be aware of such behavior.

How To Help Survivors Experiencing Teen Dating Violence

Your neighbors, friends, and classmates could be experiencing domestic violence. It’s on each one of us to provide an empowered support system and be a part of the change. It’s important to remember that each situation is unique. The best thing you can do for survivors is to listen to them and provide them with support. Do not try to be a hero – in an emergency, please contact 911.

Make Time and Start the Conversation: If you choose to reach out to a survivor, do it when the situation is calm. Engaging during tense moments may pose risks for both of you. You can bring up the topic of domestic violence by expressing your concern about observed changes in the individual.

Listen Without Judgement and Believe the Victim: If the person chooses to confide in you, listen to their story without passing judgment or interrupting. Keep in mind that domestic violence is often rooted in control rather than anger. The victim may be the only one aware of the darker side of the perpetrator.

Validate the Victim’s Feelings: It’s not unusual for victims to express conflicting feelings about their partner and their situation. These feelings can range from guilt/anger, hope/despair, and love/fear.

Offer Specific Help: Help the victim find support and resources like CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse) on our 24-hour hotline at (727) 895-4912. Look up telephone numbers and websites for shelters/domestic violence centers, social services, attorneys, counselors, or support groups.

Focus on Safety: Let the person know that you are concerned for their safety. Help them to think about a plan of action should violence occur again and particularly if they are trying to end the relationship. Ending the relationship can be a dangerous time in domestic relationships.

Offer a Code Word: Develop a safety code. Make it rather innocuous, but something only the two of you will put together as a code for. Code word or phrases such as “How’s Adam doing”? The person should know this is code for ‘call 911’.

Call the Police: If you know that violence is actively occurring, call 9-1-1 immediately. If you hear or see physical abuse taking place, call the police. The police are the most effective way to remove the immediate danger to the victim.

Resources and Help

Help is always available. If you suspect you’re experiencing teen dating violence, call CASA’s free, confidential 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (727) 895-4912. If it is not safe to call, you can reach a CASA advocate at Outside Pinellas County: (800) 500-1199.

Teen Resources: TEXT: “LOVEIS” to 22522 | CALL: (866) 331-9474

Source: Love Is Respect
This is an issue that impacts everyone – not just teens – but their parents, teachers, friends and communities as well. Together, we can raise the nation’s awareness about teen dating violence and promote safe, healthy relationships.

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