Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

By: Alexandra de Leon Date: February 7th, 2023

Dating violence is more common than you may think, especially among teens and young adults:  1 in 3 U.S. teens will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from someone they’re in a relationship with before they become adults. And nearly half (43%) of U.S. college women report experiencing violent or abusive dating behaviors.

Each February, young adults and their loved ones across the nation raise awareness about the issue of teen dating violence through Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). This annual, month-long effort focuses on advocacy and education to stop dating abuse before it starts.

What is Teen Dating Violence?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen dating violence includes four forms of violence that can occur within the dating relationships of adolescents:

  • Physical violence: the intentional use of physical force, which includes hitting, pushing, shoving, grabbing, restraining, or using strength against someone
  • Sexual violence: forcing someone to take part in a sexual act (e.g., kissing, touching, sexual intercourse) or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the person does not or cannot consent
  • Psychological aggression: the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to cause mental or emotional harm, or exert control over someone
  • Stalking: a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone else (e.g., family member, close friend)

Teen dating violence can take place anywhere, including schools and cyberspace. When any form of dating violence is perpetrated using technology, such as messaging and social media, it may be referred to as cyber dating violence Examples include sending sexual pictures of a dating partner to others without consent, sending or posting insulting or threatening messages, and sharing negative rumors about the person.

How can we stop teen dating violence it before it starts?

Supporting the development of healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships has the potential to reduce the occurrence of teen dating violence and prevent its harmful and long-lasting effects on individuals, their families, and the communities where they live. During the pre-teen and teen years, it is critical for youth to begin learning the skills needed to create and maintain healthy relationships. These skills include knowing how to manage feelings and how to communicate in a healthy way.

CDC developed Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships to stop teen dating violence before it starts. It focuses on 11-14-year-olds and includes multiple prevention components for individuals, peers, families, schools, and neighborhoods. All of the components work together to reinforce healthy relationship messages and reduce behaviors that increase the risk of dating violence. Please visit the Dating Matters website to learn more! www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/datingmatters

CDC also developed a resource that describes a variety of strategies and approaches that are based on the best available evidence for preventing intimate partner violence, including teen dating violence.8 The resource includes multiple strategies that can be used in combination to stop intimate partner violence and teen dating violence before it starts.

Educational Resources

Resources in the Community

A support system can help you define and maintain a healthy, loving relationship. Here are some community resources you can turn to. (Source: Love is Respect)

Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS): provides services to deaf, deafblind, and deaf-disabled survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault adwas.org

Brown Boi Project: a community of people working across race and gender to eradicate sexism, homophobia, and transphobia and create a healthy framework of masculinity and change brownboiproject.org

HEART: ensures that Muslims have the resources, language, and choice to nurture sexual health and confront sexual violence hearttogrow.org

love is respect: love is respect is a safe, inclusive space where teens and young adults can access information and get support in an environment designed specifically for them. A project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, love is respect offers 24/7 information, support, and advocacy to young people between the ages of 13 and 26 who have questions or concerns about their romantic relationships. Loveisrespect.org

LGBT National Help Center: serving the LGBTQ+ community by providing free and confidential peer support and local resources. Call 1-800-246-7743 or chat lgbthotline.org

National Runaway Safeline: 24/7 free support for homeless and at-risk youth. Call 1-800-RUNAWAY or visit their website  1800runaway.org/youth-teens

Scarleteen: inclusive, comprehensive, supportive reproductive and relationships info for teens scarleteen.com

StrongHearts: 24/7 free, confidential, and culturally relevant support for Native American and Alaska Native teens and young adults experiencing dating abuse and sexual violence. Call 844-7NATIVE (762-8483) or chat live strongheartshelpline.org

The Trevor Project: provides 24/7 confidential crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ teens and young adults under 25. Call 1-866-488-7386, text START to 678678, or chat live thetrevorproject.org

Your Life Your Voice: supporting parents, families, and children in times in need. 24/7 hotline, text, or email yourlifeyourvoice.org