Valley Behavioral HealthValley Behavioral Health

by Julie Hoggard Winn

Teen Dating Violence

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. Dating violence is defined as verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, and/or psychological abuse within a relationship by a current or former partner. The 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 8 percent of high school students reported physical violence and 7 percent reported that they experienced sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months before the survey.

A new type of dating abuse has recently emerged, referred to as technology dating abuse. Technology dating abuse is abusive behaviors that are perpetrated by a romantic partner via technology (social media, texting, email). This includes threats, harassment, coercing a partner into sending explicit selfies, sending degrading or threatening messages, demeaning password to email and social media accounts, and/or using a partner’s social media without permission.  A study conducted by the Department of Justice analyzed violence experienced by teens via technology found that 26% of youth in relationships report some type of cyber dating abuse, and half of these victims reported they were also physically abused. Due to the hidden nature of technology dating abuse, many teens are unlikely to report abuse. Less than 1 in 10 teens seek out help for dating violence.

Teens who experience dating violence or domestic violence report increased depression and anxiety, engagement in unhealthy behaviors such as drug and substance abuse, exhibit antisocial behaviors, have a higher risk of revictimization, and increased suicidal thoughts.

4 Teen Dating Violence Prevention & Awareness Steps:

Know The Warning Signs

Common warning signs of dating abuse are your partner checking your cell phones, emails, or social network without permission, extreme jealousy, constant belittling, explosive temper, isolating you from family and friends, hurting you, being controlling, and pressuring you into having sex.

Act On The Warning Signs

Seek help by talking to someone you trust; a parent, teacher therapist or call the Utah Domestic Violence Link Line: 1-800-897-LINK – or the Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 1-888-421-1100

Be Supportive

When someone is going through dating abuse, don’t blame them or get angry. It is important to show love and support, not judge or blame.

Educate

Understand what dating abuse is and it’s warning signs. Educate children early about what positive relationships look like.

Julie Hoggard Winn
About Julie Hoggard Winn