Help Stop Dating Abuse During Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
A DCHS CONNECT FEATURE
February 5, 2021--February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and the Sexual Assault Center encourages residents to support and share information about healthy, respectful and nonviolent relationships with young people to prevent the harmful and long-lasting effects of dating violence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen dating violence can include:
Physical violence, when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking or using another type of physical force.
Sexual violence, forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.
Psychological aggression, the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over another person.
Stalking, a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.
These behaviors can occur in person or digitally. Digital abuse is using technology such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate an intimate partner.
According to the CDC, one in 11 female and 1 in 15 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year. About 1 in 9 female and 1 in 36 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year.
The CDC also reports that teen dating violence can have severe consequences and negative effects on a developing teen, including depression and anxiety, substance misuse, antisocial behaviors and thoughts about suicide.
“Raising awareness of teen dating violence and supporting the development of healthy relationships can help stop dating abuse before it starts,” says Family Service Specialist Stephanie Melendez.
Melendez encourages residents to explore resources available at alexandriava.gov/SexualViolence and alexandriava.gov/DomesticViolence, including information about healthy relationships and protective factors that can decrease sexual violence, a quiz to see if you are in an abusive relationship, the early warning signs of dating violence and how to protect yourself from digital abuse.