What to Know About Teen Dating Violence

Are you concerned that your child is in an unhealthy relationship? Unhealthy relationships can start at an early age and for some people the cycle can last their entire lives. Dating violence starts with teasing and name calling - behaviors that are often thought to be a "normal". However, these actions can be lead to more violent actions like physical assault or rape. Teen dating violence is defined as "the physical, sexual, or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship," and includes stalking. It can occur in-person or electronically and may occur between a current or former dating partner.(1) As teens develop emotionally, they are influenced by their relationship experiences, both good and bad. Healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect. Unhealthy, abusive or violent relationships have short term and long term effects and carry consequences. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to perform poorly in school, binge drink, attempt suicide and be involved in physical altercations. Victims may also carry violence into future relationships. Teens receive messages about how to behave in relationships from peers, adults, and the media. All too often these examples highlight violence as being acceptable. Violence is never acceptable. Having a healthy and constructed talk with your teen about what and what is not acceptable in a relationship will help your teen know when a relationship they are having is unhealthy. Risks of having unhealthy relationships increases for teens who:
  • Believe it's okay to use threats or violence.
  • Use alcohol or drugs.
  • Can't manage anger or frustration.
  • Have a friend involved in dating violence.
  • Are depressed or anxious.
  • Don't have parental supervision and support.
  • Witness violence at home or in the community.
Leslie Steiner, a victim of domestic violence, discussed the issue at a TedX talk in 2012. She shared why she stayed, the perceptions of victims and abusers and what can be done to break the silence of those who suffer from domestic violence. Watch the video of her talk below to understand how this may impact your children if experienced at home and how they can see early warning signs within their relationships. Dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies. If you fear that your teen is in an unhealthy relationship, the first step is to talk to them. If you know that your teen's partner has physically hurt your teen, you should contact the police. In any case, our therapists work with victims of violence to help heal, develop coping skills and create future relationships that are healthy. Please contact us is you feel that you or someone in your family could benefit from the services we offer, we encourage you to contact us. For more information regarding our teen counseling program, click here.