• Jane Kelhod

Teen Dating Violence

When Innocent Relationships Turn Sour


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Dating violence is an unfortunate reality that teens face. According to the CDC there are millions of teens in the U.S. that have reported experiencing teen dating violence.


At a time when they are still learning and maturing, when they are still figuring out emotions and navigating their space, a jarring experience such as dating violence can cause a ripple through all of their growth.


Types of Behaviors


Physical Violence

  • Complete or attempt to hit, kick, or use any other physical force against your partner

Sexual Violence

  • Forcing or attempting to force a partner to perform sex acts or sensual touch without consent. This includes when their partner is unable to consent due to the legal age of consent (Wisconsin’s age of consent is 18).

  • Non-physical behaviors; posting and/or sharing sexual pictures and/or video of a partner without consent. Sexting without consent is included

Psychological Aggression

  • Verbal and non-verbal communication that can cause harm to their partner mentally, emotionally to exert control and encourage dependency.

Stalking

  • Continuous or repeated unwanted attention that creates concern for one’s safety and enlists fear. Can be done in person, through texts/calls, illegal tracing, or by recruiting others into this behavior.

Virtual and In-Person

In the age where we have dating apps on our phones, and social media platforms( I.e. Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, SnapChat) where many teens can meet up and chat, it’s easier than ever to find someone to talk with.


Even online relationships can result in dating violence. It can show itself a number of different ways:

  • Unwanted texts; check-ins, harassment, insults

  • Harassment on social media profiles

  • Demanding control over their partner’s passwords

  • Pressure to send nude or provocative pictures

  • Demands immediate responses

These examples are not unique to virtual relationships


Pictures, texts, and even screenshots can be used as a form of coercion to keep a partner compliant or as a way to keep them from leaving.


How is this a Problem?

We have heard from adults that if we are getting teased (to some extent bullied) by a crush or a love interest, that it is completely normal. Teaching kids and teens this behavior as normal can be the start of seeing teen dating violence as a regular occurrence.


Behaviors can escalate, evolve, and become abusive. When teens see these behaviors as typical or if they are scared of ending the relationship for their own safety, many reports of TDV go unreported.


Consequences

Being in unhealthy and abusive relationships can have short and long term effects. For teens and young adults experiencing dating violence it can be severe on their emotional and social development and shape how they view relationships into their adult years.


Youth who have experienced teen dating violence could experience:

  • Symptoms of depression and anxiety

  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors like using tobacco, drugs or alcohol

  • Having antisocial behaviors; lying theft, bullying or hitting

  • Having suicidal thoughts

Violence in a teenage relationship sets the stage for problems in future relationships including intimate partner violence and sexual violence, and ultimately victimization throughout life. Youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.


Prevention

2608-364-1083velopment of healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships has the potential to reduce the occurrence of TDV and prevent its harmful and long-lasting effects. During the young years, it is critical for teens and young adults 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. Other lengths to prevent teen dating violence are as followed:2

  • Learning safe and healthy relationship skills

  • Bystander education and training

  • Improve school classes on health & sex education to be inclusive

  • Open conversations with family and peers

  • Be an example of a healthy relationship

  • Reach out for support from local organizations

Resources


Some of the programs that we offer to children are coordinated by our amazing Family Advocate/Prevention & Youth Specialist, Eboni Morrow. She hosts a wide array of services to families/children including:


● Teen Support Group: This group is designed for teens and is a safe space to talk about healthy relationships, boundaries, and more.


● Love Notes: Is a program designed specifically for teens and young adults (14-24) on how to build healthy romantic relationships, prevent dating violence, and improve impulse control.


● Case management, emotional support, access to resources, and referrals to other supportive programs in the community.


Please contact us for more information:

24/7 Hotline: 608-364-1083

Or Email Eboni: emorrow@familyservices1.org