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As soon as 16-year-old Diana reached home, her mother noticed her swollen eyes, and it did not take her very long to discover that her daughter’s boyfriend had assaulted her. After a lot of comforting, Diana finally disclosed that her boyfriend would hit her often, because he had anger issues. Like Diana, many teenagers in the United States are abused by their dates and withstand the worst dating violence in silence.
There might be many teenagers who suffer dating violence, but remain silent about the emotional and physical abuse they endure. For some, the circumstances do not encourage an open conversation with their parents and discuss about the intimate partner violence (IPV) they experience. Aimed at bringing awareness and encourage parents, schools, communities and teenagers, February is observed as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month across the United States, to help prevent dating abuse.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), at least one in 10 teens was assaulted by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the past 12 months prior to the survey. It is important for youngsters to understand that an unhealthy relationship should not be prolonged as it could leave a painful psychological scar that could last for a long time. Teenage is an impressionable phase of life and sometimes the youngster may not be mature enough to realize that what starts as a joke or a casual incident, has the potential of turning into something serious and violent, if not nipped in the bud. Listed below are some of the red flags of teen dating violence:
- Physical – When a partner gets slapped, shoved, hit, kicked, pinned or punched, it is a form of physical dating violence.
- Sexual – When a partner pressurizes another partner to indulge in sexual acts, but the other is unwilling or cannot give a consent, it is a type of sexual dating violence. It could be physical or non-physical, when accompanied with threats of releasing personal information, if not obliged.
- Emotional/Psychological – This comprises bullying, causing embarrassment, shaming and name-calling, keeping the partner away from friends or family. It is done with a purpose to alleviate one’s sense of purpose and self-worth.
- Stalking – This can be in real or in the digital world, by following the partner everywhere they go or by hacking into their accounts and causing online distress.
Consequences of dating violence
Teenage is that phase of one’s life, when, along with physical growth, there is emotional or behavioral development as well. As such, the nature of relationships could have a profound effect on one’s emotional set-up. Teens who are abused by their partners might struggle with:
- Anxiety and depression symptoms
- Thoughts about suicide
- Self-harming thoughts
- Developing an antisocial behavior
- Involvement in alcoholism and/or other addiction forming substances
- Victimization during college
Tips to prevent dating violence
Not all relationships end up in an abuse. One can foster a loving relationship by following a few simple rules, like:
- Not buying the saying “love is blind.” Most relationships always start on a happy note. Violence seeps into it slowly, during which time, if the person is made to believe that everything is acceptable in love, it is a signal that the relationship is traversing on the wrong path and it is better to take a step back.
- Dating abuse stems from one partner’s need of power and control over another. If the partner is excessively obsessed about your whereabouts and whose company you are in, etc., it signals a problem and must be discussed at length when the signs first appear.
- It is important to love yourself first because that would set the tone for your relationship with others. It will also show that you truly care about yourself and that you have a life beyond your love life.
- It is important to build a safety net or a network of loved ones and friends, whom one could turn to for help, in case a relationship turns abusive.
Dating violence is a serious public health concern, which could severely mar the confidence of a person, affecting his or her overall quality of life. It is important to honor and respect yourself and at the first sign of behavioral issues, cajole your partner into seeking professional help.
If you or a loved one is showing symptoms of depression, connect with the Depression Treatment Centers of California to know the kind of support that is available. You can chat online or call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 to get in touch with our trained professionals and know more about the finest residential treatment centers for depression.