Teen dating violence is a pattern of harmful and destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. It usually involves a series of abusive behaviors where one partner has more control or dominance over another. Many teens experience some form of intimate partner violence while in high school or college.
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is a nationally recognized campaign to raise awareness and education on teen dating abuse. 1 in 3 teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by an intimate partner, and nearly half (43%) of college women report experiencing violent or abusive dating behaviors. February was declared National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month by Congress in 2010, and continues to be a month-long campaign focused on advocacy and prevention.
Teen dating violence is an issue that impacts teens, as well as their parents, siblings, teachers, friends, and communities. Here in the Tampa Bay Area, our hope is to help young people, and the community, by increasing awareness about teen dating violence through prevention education.
Though it can be painful and uncomfortable to talk about, it’s important to acknowledge the experiences of dating violence and abuse. Having honest conversations will help empower teens to speak up while alleviating feelings of shame and guilt.
Every relationship is and looks different. Healthy relationships require hard work, communication, and a level of maturity that may be complex for young people to navigate. It’s sometimes hard to identify when behavior is becoming unhealthy or abusive, but there are typical warning signs:
- Checking your phone, email, or social media accounts without your permission.
- Putting you down frequently, especially in front of others.
- Isolating you from friends or family (physically, financially, or emotionally).
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity.
- Explosive outbursts, temper, or mood swings.
- Any form of physical harm.
- Possessiveness or controlling behavior.
- Pressuring you or forcing you to have sex.
If you or someone you know are involved in an unhealthy or abusive dating relationship, it’s important to know that resources are available. Speaking with someone from your college counseling office or student assistance program is always a good place to start.