February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Teen dating violence occurs when individuals 17 and under experience physical violence, psychological aggression, sexual violence, or stalking in their relationships. Approximately one in three individuals will experience some form of dating violence before the age of 18 (loveisrespect.org, 2021). February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and Russell House will have a variety of social media and informational materials available to help bring awareness to these issues.

What is Dating Violence?

Dating violence is a pattern of behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power in a relationship. The abuser intentionally behaves in a way to control their partner. The forms of dating violence are physical abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and stalking.

Physical violence can include but is not limited to, hitting, punching, or spitting.

Psychological abuse is what some may know as emotional abuse, where the abuser may act to embarrass, degrade or otherwise invalidate the feelings and thoughts of their partner. A common example of this is gaslighting, where the abuser manipulates their partner in a way that may lead them to question their sanity, thoughts, and feelings. This may also include name calling, yelling or screaming, excessive guilting and ultimatums, and controlling a partner’s ability to communicate with others.

Sexual abuse may occur in may ways, some examples are forcing sexual acts, tampering with or barring access to contraception. Rape can still occur within relationships.

Stalking is unwanted, repeated surveillance of an individual. This can occur both in-person when a stalker appears places unannounced or digitally, where a stalker may utilize social media and other internet platforms to track an individual.

Dating Violence and Social Media

As technology becomes an ever present part of our lives, it is important to be mindful that dating violence can occur aided by social media and other technology. While this may occur in many ways, some examples include an abuser controlling their partner’s social media, using apps to track a partner’s location without their consent/awareness, and using social media to embarrass or shame their partner. It may be beneficial for parents of teens that use social media, to have regular discussions about healthy boundaries along with signs of unhealthy relationships and dating violence using social media.