Abusive relationships are not exclusive to adults. In fact, 1 in 3 teens experience physical, emotional, or sexual abuse by a dating partner. Furthermore, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence nationwide, almost triple the national average. Dating abuse has long-term repercussions too, from higher risk of teen pregnancy and STDs to depression, eating disorders, and future domestic abuse.
The good news? Talking about healthy relationships and dating abuse can help break the cycle of violence and stop abuse before it begins. Each February, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month highlights these issues through a number of events and programs across the country.
The 2017 PSA Contest is officially open! Find all the details for the contest here.
For Teens & Young Adults
In any relationship, you have a right to:
- Be treated as an equal
- Make decisions about your own body
- Choose your own friends
- Express your own thoughts and opinions
- Live without fear or intimidation
- Feel good about yourself
- Spend time by yourself
- Choose what to wear
- Say no
- Change your mind
- Spend time with your family
- Feel safe emotionally and physically
- Private use of your phone or computer
- Spend time doing things of interest to you
- Tell the truth and be told the truth
- End a relationship
If you’re concerned that your rights or the rights of someone you care about are not being respected, call the WCA Hotline 208.343.7025 or contact the National Dating Abuse Helpline (call 1.866.331.9474 or text “loveis” to 22522).
For Parents, Teachers, and the Community
The following may be warning signs that your child or another young person you know might be in an abusive relationship:
- You notice that their partner is extremely jealous or possessive.
- You notice unexplained marks or bruises.
- You notice that their partner messages or texts them excessively.
- You notice that your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
- Your son or daughter stops participating in extracurricular activities or other interests.
- Your child stops spending time with other friends and family.
- Your child’s partner abuses other people or animals.
- Your child begins to dress differently.
“Warning sign” is another way of saying “opportunity for prevention.” If you are concerned about your child’s relationship:
- Tell your child you’re concerned for their safety.
- Ask questions that focus on their experience, and let them do most of the talking.
- Believe them, take them seriously.
- Be supportive and understanding.
- Never put down their partner.
- Avoid telling them what to do. Remember that ultimately your child must be the one who decides to leave the relationship.
- Contact an advocate at 208.343.7025 to help start the conversation.
(adapted from Love is Respect)
Statistics from the American Psychological Association and Department of Justice.