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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, a time to educate the community about the prevalence and warning signs of this issue that impacts 1 in 3 young people.

Teen dating violence is very similar to intimate partner violence or domestic violence in that it is all about one person trying to control and have power over their partner. Since young people are immersed in technology, it often occurs in the form of digital abuse. Here are a few examples:

  • Tracking a partner’s location through a GPS app
  • Bombarding a partner with tons of text messages, pressuring them to respond immediately as a way to control them
  • Sharing nude pictures of a partner
  • Monitoring a partner’s social media interactions

Since most teens have their own cell phones, dating violence can easily go unnoticed by a young person’s parents or support system. And dating abuse doesn’t always stick to a screen. 52% of teens who experience digital abuse are also physically abused.

Warning signs of teen dating violence include:

  • Your loved one has become increasingly isolated from their family and friends
  • Your loved one’s dating relationship seems like it’s on “fast forward” or moving too fast
  • You notice your loved one’s partner tells jokes at their expense and repeatedly puts them down
  • You notice your loved one’s partner seems to check-in on them a lot or shows up unexpectedly when they are spending time with others
  • Your loved one’s partner acts excessively jealous

Only 9% of abused teens seek help, so it’s important for family members, friends and loved ones to be aware of the warning signs, check-in with the young people in their lives, model healthy relationships, and create a safe place to talk about dating, ask questions, and feel supported.

Resources for support: From counseling to legal aid, there are many local resources for teens experiencing dating abuse. Check them out at https://www.womenagainstabuse.org/get-help/resources/resources-for-teens

This is the fifth in a monthly series by Women Against Abuse that will share information about domestic violence, the local resources that are available, and how to be an advocate for healthy relationships in your family.


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