National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month Recap
Contributed by: Mia Uhunmwuangho
According to loveisrespect.org, nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
February is National Teen Dating Awareness and Prevention month, and here at GEN we recognize the necessity and importance of speaking with girls about healthy relationships and boundaries. These conversations can be difficult to navigate, so here are some tips for having these discussions for with the girls in your life.
At GEN, we typically begin our Healthy Relationships curriculum by asking girls what they think it means to be in a healthy/respectful versus unhealthy/abusive relationship. After this discussion, GEN staff and volunteers help clarify the definitions.
In our curriculum, we define respectful relationships as environments that create appreciation, safety, and trust. We define an unhealthy relationship as a relationship where abuse is a pattern of controlling behavior that someone uses against another. Abuse can cause injury and even death, but it doesn’t have to be physical. It can include verbal and emotional abuse – constant insults, isolation from family and friends, name calling, controlling what someone wears – and it can also include sexual abuse and coercion.
So how do we talk to the girls in our lives about healthy versus unhealthy relationships? You can begin by discussing the differences between healthy vs. unhealthy relationships and respect vs. abuse. It’s important to note that healthy and unhealthy relationships look different for everyone based on the boundaries each person chooses to set in their relationships. Point out that even though healthy and unhealthy relationships look different for each person based on their perspective, respect belongs in healthy relationships and when someone is being disrespected or abused, that is indicative of an unhealthy relationship. Love Is Respect’s interactive relationship spectrum breaks down examples of healthy and unhealthy behavior in a relationship.
There are several other resources in additional to GEN that you can also use when discussing this issue. Check them out below!
Loveisrespect.org: Setting Boundaries in your relationship
Boundaries help you honor your needs by defining what you are comfortable with and how you would like to be treated by others. But what happens when someone crosses those boundaries? This post explains how to communicate to communicate with your partner, and also what to do when you feel your relationship is becoming unsafe.
Breakthecycle.org: What Makes a Dating Relationship Healthy for Young People
This article breaks down some key differences between unhealthy and healthy relationships, specifically when it comes to new young people in new relationships.
Dosomething.org: More information on teen dating violeence
This website offer more in-depth statistics on teen dating violence. It also offers free hotline that can be accessed via text message. Text “DS” TO 741-741.
Thehotline.org: Safe space
The National Domestic Violence Hotline in Austin offers a safe space with trained advocates who are available to take calls 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).