February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Many people don’t realize that domestic violence impacts not only adults, but young people as well.
One in three teens will experience violence in their dating relationships. The abuse experienced by teens is similar to the abuse experienced by adults, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and intimidation. Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, at a rate almost triple the national average.
Teens are not always able to talk about the abuse to trusted adults in their lives. This can be due to a variety of factors including not acknowledging the signs of abuse, fear, embarrassment and fearing they wouldn’t be believed.
A teen’s confusion about the law and the desire for confidentiality are two of the most significant barriers to young victims of violence seeking help.
We must work together to bring attention to the issue of teen dating violence. To do that, we need to provide resources and education to the young people who are experiencing violence. We need to understand the dynamics of domestic violence, recognize it when it happens, and offer interventions. These steps are essential if we are to ever break the cycle.