Adults are not the only ones who may endure physical and verbal abuse in relationships — teens and young adults do, as well. Just look to all the recent debates about Chris Brown and Rihanna, not to mention rapper Too Short's controversial and demeaning advice for young men on XXL.com.
To raise awareness around this serious and common problem, February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Teen dating violence and abuse is defined as a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. It can look like a lot of things: hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, throwing things, rape and emotional abuse, controlling or manipulating, intimidation and stalking, to name a few.
—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in 11 adolescents say they have been the victim of physical dating violence; a separate survey indicated that one in four teens self-report physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse every year.
—African-American and Hispanic students report higher rates of dating violence than white students. Healthy or unhealthy relationship habits develop early.
—Approximately 72 percent of 8th and 9th graders report "dating." By the time these students get to high school, more than half of them say they see dating violence among their peers.
—Destructive relationships during the teen years can lead to lifelong unhealthy relationship practices, may disrupt normal development, and can contribute to other unhealthy behaviors in teens that, if left unchecked, can lead to problems over a lifetime.
—The CDC's 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey indicates that adolescents who reported being physically hurt in a dating relationship were also more likely to report that they engage in risky sexual behavior, binge drink, use drugs, attempt suicide and participate in physical fights.
If you or a friend were in an abusive relationship, would you know?
Here are 10 of the most common abusive behaviors by a partner:
—Checking your cell phone or email without permission
—Constantly putting you down
—Extreme jealousy or insecurity
—Isolating you from family or friends
—Making false accusations
—Physically hurting you in any way
—Telling you what to do
If you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence, know that it is not your fault and you are not alone. Talk to an adult, teacher or call one of the resources below for help.
—National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
—National Sexual Assault Hotline (RAINN): 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
—The Trevor Hotline: 866-4-U-TREVOR (Trevor is a suicide prevention hotline for LGBT youth — many people in the LGBT community may feel unsafe contacting hotlines that are not specific to the LGBT community)
—National (Teen) Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474
To learn more about teen dating violence and what healthy relationships look like, go to loveisrespect.org.
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