February 2020 marked the tenth year of Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. According to Love Is Respect: One in three teens reports experiencing abuse in a dating relationship and two-thirds of them will never report it to anyone. Dating violence is not just dangerous, it can have long lasting impacts on a young person’s health and safety. Teens who experience dating violence are more likely to experience depression and anxiety symptoms, engage in unhealthy behaviors like using tobacco, drugs and alcohol, exhibit antisocial behaviors, and think about suicide. Teens also experience significant barriers accessing supportive resources and safety while experiencing abuse. Agencies like ours, Love is Respect, Break the Cycle, and DayOne work to reduce these barriers as a first step towards healing and ending teen dating violence.
This years 2020 theme, #1Thing, highlights the role we all play in supporting teens and ending dating violence. While February is almost done the work in addressing this issue is certainly not. We ask you to think about the one thing you could do today to encourage safety in relationships. It could be as simple as visiting Love Is Respect and sharing articles about Trust and Boundary Setting as part of healthy relationships. Or, posting DayOne’s video on social media and discussing the red flags of abuse in a relationship. Or, even sharing the Advocacy Center’s hotline or firstname.lastname@example.org email with teens in the community so they know where to reach out if they are feeling unsafe in their dating relationship or are concerned about a friend. Learn more ways about how abusive relationships can look by exploring the power and control wheel.