February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. In a recent national survey, 1 in 10 teens reported being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend at least once in the 12 months prior to the survey. Nearly half of all teens in relationships say they know friends who have been verbally abused.
Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence. That is why adults need to talk to teens now about the importance of developing healthy, respectful relationships.
What are the consequences of dating violence? As teens develop emotionally, they are heavily influenced by experiences in their relationships. Healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have severe consequences with negative short–term and long–term effects on a developing teen. Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to experience the following:
- Symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Engagement in unhealthy behaviors, such as using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
- Involvement in antisocial behaviors
- Thoughts about suicide
Additionally, youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.
Abusive relationships have good times and bad times. Part of what makes dating violence so confusing and painful is that there is love mixed with the abuse. This can make it hard to tell if you are really being abused.
Dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies. If you think you may in an abusive relationship, please call the Riverview Center hotline at 888-557-0310 (Sexual Assault Hotline) or 815-777-3680 (Domestic Violence Hotline). For any additional information, contact our local Riverview Center office at 815-244-7704.