Teen Dating Violence by Alina Lopez
Dating is an integral part of people’s lives that many experience for the first time as teenagers. Once a milestone for high schoolers, romantic relationships have been blooming in earlier teen’s lives, as early as 12 or 13. A healthy relationship requires open communication, safety, trust, and respect. Teens are still developing critical, emotional, and mental maturities that place them at a disadvantage in dealing with stresses of a romantic relationship, which can lead to an increase of relationships that go south. As a result, some teen relationships are characterized as unhealthy, or even violent.
Just because abuse happens between teenagers does not mean that it’s any less serious. 1 in 10 teens reported experiencing dating violence. Teen dating violence “includes physical, psychological, or sexual abuse, harassment, or stalking of any person ages 12-18 in the context of a past or present romantic or consensual relationship”. Most of the time, teens are not mature enough nor do they understand how to effectively communicate their feelings to their romantic partner, or they are pressured to behave in ways they ordinarily wouldn’t by their peers. Also, teens are sponges, mimicking what they see and hear in the world around them. Violence in entertainment, having been normalized, can make it seem the unhealthy relationships portrayed are normal or just a part of life that everyone is subject to dealing with. It is amplified if teens witness violence, abusive, or unhealthy relationships at home. Teens who are in violent or abusive relationships are also more likely to be in unhealthy relationships later in life. Additionally, a teenager who commits teen dating violence may also face criminal consequences.
What can you, as a teen, do if you feel you’re in an abusive relationship?
- Trust your intuition! Do not ignore the warning signs. It can get worse over time.
- Spend time with people you care about other than your partner. Stay in touch with your friends.
- Keep up with activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good about yourself.
- Confide about the situation with someone you trust.
- Report any abuse or violence to the authorities.
- Realize that you always have the right to end a relationship and that you should always respect someone else’s wish to end the relationship with you.
Teenagers aren’t always the most forthcoming with authority figures, so it’s important to encourage open and free communication. Establish a line of communication that doesn’t have strings or punishment attached. It is important to leave lines of communication open to stop issues before they may start.
If an adult observes that someone may be a victim of Teen Dating Violence, listen to what the student, family, or friend is saying without interrupting. Don’t judge the person, but give advice instead and talk about choices they have to seek help. Do not confront the person’s abusive partner with the issues, as that may put you or the victim at increased risk.
Some phone numbers to keep in mind are:
National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline
Florida Abuse Hotline
Florida Domestic Violence Hotline
To contact our office, call 305-470-1670 or visit our website www.citizenscrimewatch.org.
Until next time, be aware, make good choices, and be safe!
Written by: Alina Lopez