• Hadlie Kelly

How To Prevent Teen Dating Violence




Have you ever been a part of an unhealthy relationship? Maybe you say no, maybe you are unsure, that is completely normal. There are many interpretations on what is and is not a healthy relationship. Throughout the blog, we will explore this to make sure you are in a safe environment with your partner. Safety is the number one priority for all people of all ages. If teen dating violence can be prevented before it starts, it would make a huge impact for adolescent development.




What is Teen Dating Violence?

Teen dating violence is a consensual relationship, in the context of a past or present romantic relationship between two adolescents (between the ages of 12 and 18) that participate in acts of physical, psychological, sexual abuse, harassment, or stalking. Most of the time, only one of the partners participate in these acts.


Let’s say you have plans with your friends on a Saturday night. You get dressed up and put makeup on. You send a snapchat to your partner to show how pretty you look before you head out. After he opens the snapchat, he starts to blow up your phone through many calls and texts. You answer the phone to him saying you can’t wear that outfit because you look too available. This act is an example of teen dating violence.


You may think this is a “reasonable” thing for your partner to do; but it is not. This scenario represents the partner being controlling of the other. That leads to psychological abuse, harassment, or even stalking.




Prevalence

Teen dating violence has been slowly increasing over time and it has impacted the development of many adolescents. Teen dating violence can cause mental health issues among our youth such as anxiety and depression. These mental health issues are not something that we want an adolescent to go through. They need to happy during their teenage life while focusing on their schooling, personal development, and family relationships. Teen dating violence can put these things to a halt in a blink of an eye.


One in three teenagers, nearly 1.5 million, in romantic relationships admit to being in unhealthy relationships with their partners. 25% of teenage girls were estimated to have been in an abusive relationship. Also, girls between the ages of 16 and 24 are three times more likely to be abused by an intimate partner.




Adolescent Development

This stage of life is one of the most difficult stages one will navigate. The rapid growth that one faces emotionally and physically makes for a big challenge. Being a part of a domestic violence situation does not help teen development cognitively, physically, or environmentally.


Let’s say you are starting your first job. This is the first milestone that develops your financial independence from your parents. You are in a romantic relationship with someone you love dearly. When you get ready for work, your partner tells you to stay home because they are feeling down. You say no because you need the money. Your partner then convinces you to stay home so you do.


This example is very common among our current youth. Teens in situations like this are more at risk for not meeting their developmental goals and skills during adolescence. This will cause a halt in their development in becoming successful adults.


During this stage of life, adolescents will go through specific tasks that enhance their development. These stages may be put on halt due to teen dating violence. The stages include:

Puberty

  • Completion of growth

  • Learning about intimacy

  • Developing new cognitive skills

  • Identifying sexual identity

  • Developing a degree of emotional, personal, and financial independence from parents




Lasting Consequences

What do you want to be when you grow up? What is your dream? Answering these questions will help you understand what you want for your future. Being in a domestic violence situation can keep you from achieving those dreams and goals. Having a controlling partner who won’t let you wear what you want will definitely not let you achieve your future goals and dreams.


Teen dating violence affects adolescents’ overall wellness, social emotional, academic development, and future success. Other lasting consequences include:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Low self-esteem

  • Aggression

  • Alcoholism or drug abuse

  • Anorexia or bulimia

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Sexually transmitted diseases

  • Teenage pregnancy

These lasting consequences will put your future and dreams on lock down until they are resolved. Resolving consequences like these take lots of time. The quicker you get out of the situation, the closer you will get to achieving your dreams.




Beginning Stages of Teen Violence

Let’s talk about the signs of potential violence. Sometimes, people oversee the signs of violence that their partner is giving because they are in love and feel like nothing could go wrong. That is a normal feeling; however, it is important that we talk about the signs to look for at the beginning of potential abuse. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you notice that your partner is getting extremely jealous?

  • When you are apart, do you notice your partner constantly checking in with you or making you check in with them?

  • Does he or she try to isolate you from your friends and family?

  • Does he or she insult or put down people that you care about?

  • Do you feel that he or she is too serious about the relationship quickly?

  • Did he or she have bad relationships in the past?

  • Does he or she give you orders, tells you what to wear, or tries to make all of the decisions for you?

  • Does he or she blame you when they treat you badly by telling you what you did wrong?

  • Does your partner have an explosive temper? (“blows up” a lot)

  • Does your partner pressure you into sexual activity that you’re not comfortable with?

  • Does your partner have a history of fighting, hurting animals?

  • Do you worry about how your partner will react to the things you say? Are you afraid of provoking your partner?

  • Does your partner own or use weapons?

  • Does he or she refuse to let you to end the relationship?

If some of these things, or many are true in your relationship, you will be entering a domestic violence situation. The next step is taking action!




Prevention

It is imperative that we stop teen dating violence before it starts. Some ways that we can achieve this goal could be educating preteens and young teens about how to form healthy relationships with others and setting boundaries, helping teens recognize the warning signs,

discussing with teens the pros and cons of romantic relationships, or creating a “no secrets” policy.


Adding to the curriculum of health courses in schools would make a big impact. For example, in health class, the teacher should have a unit all about teen dating violence. Within the unit, many topics should be covered such as boundary setting, the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, warning signs of abuse at the beginning stages of dating, and the pros and cons of teen dating. Spreading awareness in an educational setting would be a great step to prevention.




Proactive Measures

What should you do if you are in a domestic violence situation? Communicate!

  • Talk to your parents or the parents of a close friend

  • Talk to other family members (aunts/uncles or grandparents)

  • Talk to a teacher

  • Talk to a guidance counselor

  • Reach out to local or state domestic violence programs, or sexual assault programs



Finding Help (Resources in Rock County)

If you are in a domestic violence situation and you are unsure of the resources near you, no problem! Here are some resources in Rock County that could help you.



Defy Domestic Abuse Beloit

Let’s say that you are in a domestic relationship and you’re scared to tell someone because of what the abuser would do. Defy Domestic Abuse Beloit has a hotline number that you can call for any reason. If you feel alone and you need someone to talk to, they are there to help. Every call is confidential, so no information will be shared with anyone else.

Call: (608) 365-1119


Let’s say you have been through a domestic violence situation and you are feeling alone and wish you had someone to be there whenever you need. No worries! Defy also provides individual therapy and teen support groups. You are never alone!



Community Action

Another great service in Rock County would be Community Action. They provide mentoring programs for young men and women. The program is designed for teens who are heading down the wrong path or who could be in trouble. Mentors will help you make good choices to gain safety and wellness.

Call: (608) 313-1325 for more information.


Do you want to learn more about transitioning into adulthood? Are you struggling with transitioning into adulthood? Community Action will help you make successful transitions into adulthood by educating you on the risk of unintended pregnancy, contracting an STD, building healthy relationships, and increasing self-efficacy.

Call: (608) 313- 1300 for more information.



Project 16:49

If you are a teenager who is homeless or on the verge of being homeless due to any situation, Project 16:49 has your back! They will provide support to help you stay in school, graduate, and become a self-sufficient adult.

Call: (608) 314-4199


Let’s say you are over 18 and you want to live by yourself. Project 16:49 provides an independent living program that offers supervised shared housing.

Call: (608) 314-4199



Luther Social Services of WI

Do you go to Parker high school and you are in need of food, clothing, or hygiene products? The Lutheran Social Services of WI can provide that for you. All you need to do is email Deri Eastman at deastman@janesville.k12.wi.us for more information.


If you are in a crisis, if you are struggling mentally and need someone to talk to, if you need temporary shelter, or if you want to live independently and need help with doing so, the Lutheran Social Services of WI has programs for all of those things.

Call: (608) 752-7660 for more information.



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