Health & Safety

February 1, 2013

Teens don’t always recognize dating violence

SHARON KOZAK
56th Medical Operations Squadron Family Advocacy

Though the consequences of dating violence are serious and the need for safety and support may be clear to adults, it is often difficult for young people to recognize and respond to abuse within their intimate relationships. Recognizing that the person you love, who professes to love you, is controlling, abusive or violent may be difficult for adult survivors of domestic violence. For teens who are just beginning to navigate the complexities of intimate relationships, recognition of control and abuse may be more difficult. Even when abuse is recognized, teens whose life experiences and rights are limited may be intimidated or reluctant to seek support and protection from adults in the community.

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (2007-2012) has revealed that approximately one in five adolescent girls in grades 9 through 12 have reported being physically and/or sexually hurt by a dating partner. This pattern is true across the nation.

For these reasons, February was chosen as National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month.

Teen dating violence is defined as a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, perpetrated by an adolescent (between the ages of 13 and 18) against a current or former dating partner. Abuse may include insults, coercion, social sabotage, sexual harassment, threats and/or acts of physical or sexual abuse. The abusive teen uses this pattern of violent and coercive behavior, in a heterosexual or same gender dating relationship, in order to gain power and maintain control over the dating partner.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline launched the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline Feb. 8, 2007. This 24-hour resource uses telephone and web-based interactive technology to reach teens and young adults experiencing dating abuse. The helpline numbers are: (866) 331-9474 and (866) 331-8453 for those who need a telephone texting device. The peer-to-peer online individual chat function and can be accessed from the National Teen Dating Abuse website.

This month provides an opportunity for Luke members to demonstrate a commitment to ending teen dating violence and support the numerous victims and survivors who are in the community. Family Advocacy and the 56th Force Support Squadron Youth Center will meet 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 8 and 15 to provide information about the seriousness of teen dating violence and its prevalence everywhere. Tie-dyed backpacks filled with giveaways will be distributed to those who sign up and other raffle items will be available to win.

For more information for those in abusive relationships and would like help, call Family Advocacy at (623) 856-3417.

Ten warning signs of abuse

While there are many warning signs of abuse, these are the most common abusive behaviors:

  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • Explosive temper
  • Isolating you from family or friends
  • Making false accusations
  • Mood swings
  • Physically hurting you in any way
  • Possessiveness
  • Telling you what to do



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