Figuring out who you are, what is important to you, in real time–and in relation to others–can be a lot. Teens are navigating new territory on so many fronts. Whether dating and exploring intimate connections is a part of a teen’s life now, or in the future, talking about relationships isn’t always easy.
Teen dating violence (TDV) affects millions of teens in the U.S. each year*. Experiences of relationship abuse begin younger than many of us may realize. About 5 million men and 11 million women who shared experiencing sexual violence, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner, reported that they first experienced these forms of relationship abuse before they turned 18**.
The data also tells us that many teens don’t report when they are experiencing abuse because they are afraid to tell their family and friends about what they are going through.
Because relationship abuse can have lifelong impacts and often times be fatal, it is not just life-saving for teens to have a clear understanding of the difference between healthy relationships and unhealthy relationships–our ability to talk about these issues with teens also holds the potential to impact the safety of our communities for the long-term.
The ways we can counter teens’ fears can also increase our capacity to respond as a community. Learn what teen dating violence can look like. Let teens you are connected to know that they matter and that you are there for them, even when it’s awkward or hard for them (or you!) to discuss something. Sharing your own concerns and questions can open a door for a teen to share theirs. The more often we model talking about sensitive topics and make space for these kinds of conversations, the more we can make relationship safety less of “a talk” and more of something we can discuss and take on together.
Zoë Reznick Gewanter is a Prevention Educator with CHANA. To learn more about CHANA’s Healthy Relationships programming, bring a conversation to your youth group, school or community or to consult with our clinical team, call 410-234-0030.
*https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/fastfact.html Page last reviewed: February 26, 2019, Content source: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention