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National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Breaking the Cycle

Every February, mental health experts and activists bring attention to an issue many are often silent on with Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Robin Lambert Browning, MA Licensed Psychologist of Appalachian Psychological Associates, feels this is an important way to “break the cycle of domestic violence”, and emphasizes the many negative effects of domestic violence. “It is vital to communicate the dangers of domestic violence to adults as well as teens and adolescents, due to the health risks, behavioral health concerns, substance abuse, and other high risk situations associated with domestic violence,” Robin explains.

Robin shared some information on teen dating violence, the risks, and why it’s important to raise awareness.

It Can Happen To Anyone

Teen dating violence, just like any kind of domestic abuse, can occur between anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, class, or gender. It’s important to know that in any abusive romantic situation, there may be a period early on in the relationship in which things seem to be “perfect”. A cycle of violence typically follows this period, including a phase of rising tension between partners and increased jealousy and anger issues, a crisis in which the abuse occurs, and a so-called honeymoon phase, in which the abuser apologizes and attempts to regain the victim’s trust.

If you, as an outsider who cares for the teen in question, recognize signs of this cycle of violence taking place, it is important to intervene. Express your concerns, and understand that the teen may feel defensive or hurt. They may strive to defend the abuser, or deny what is happening altogether. Helping them to see the damage that this behavior can do, and to access resources like the National Domestic Violence Hotline, can be important.

Robin also shared some important facts about teen dating violence. While it may seem like an issue that other people experience, rather than something that might be experienced by a loved one, 1.5 teenagers admit that they were harmed by a romantic partner, and ⅓ of individuals will experience some form of abusive relationship in their lifetime. While anyone can be abused, regardless of gender, young women and girls between the age of 16 and 24 are three times more likely than the rest of the population to experience intimate partner abuse.

The negative effects of such abuse can be shocking. Teens who have experienced dating violence are more prone to developing alcoholism, eating disorders, and suicidal thoughts.

Preventing teen dating violence is not only about understanding the negative impacts. It is about promoting healthy relationships built on a foundation of healthy communication and managing emotions in a positive way. The CDC Website, DatingMatters, has a variety of information and resources to help young people develop healthy relationships.

Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month is a great time to raise awareness about the prevention of teen dating violence. Take time to bring attention to this subject by promoting this information to young people you know, whether you talk to them one on one, or share resources.

If you’re looking for more information or help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233(SAFE) or text “START” to 88788.

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