Living through a pandemic—with an arctic storm of historic proportions on top of that—is stressful for anyone and everyone. The additional challenges of isolation and financial strain faced by survivors of domestic violence during these unprecedented times also extend to teens and young adults in abusive dating relationships.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it. Locally, AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse) works with schools, programs for at-risk students and community-based groups on teen abuse prevention by focusing on healthy relationships. AVDA believes early prevention and intervention are the keys to ending domestic abuse.
One in three teens report experiencing dating violence and 43 percent of college students report experiencing violent or abusive behaviors in relationships. Dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. This pattern can be different in every relationship, but usually becomes more frequent and more dangerous over time. Dating violence can include physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or technology-facilitated abuse. Teen dating violence can have serious ramifications and place victims at higher risk for future harm, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and future domestic violence.
Raising awareness of what makes a relationship healthy and the warning signs of abuse empowers young people to know that they deserve to be treated with respect and that abuse of any kind is unacceptable. This powerful information and support can shift the outcomes for teens and young adults, and also lower rates of domestic violence among adults — currently one in four women and one in seven men will experience severe physical violence from an intimate partner.
If you or someone you know is experiencing dating abuse, AVDA is here to help with free legal representation for protective orders and trauma counseling. Get the help you deserve by calling 713-224-9911. For information about AVDA’s youth abuse prevention programming, visit https://avda.org/youth-prevention/
love is respect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, offers 24/7 support to young people who have questions or concerns about their relationships, and its website www.loveisrespect.org has terrific information on healthy relationship skills. AVDA joins with love is respect in its promotion of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month with the theme, chosen by college students across the country, Know Your Worth.
The Know Your Worth campaign is grounded in the belief that everyone, regardless of sexual identity, race, or gender is worthy of respect. No one should ever feel unworthy of a respectful relationship or worthless. Individuals can participate in Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month on social media with hashtag #KnowYourWorth and by loveisrespect.org/get-involved/tdvam/