Editorial: Suffering from teen dating violence? You are not alone

 

In the fall, The Darien Times spoke with a young woman who asked to remain anonymous.

She talked of a relationship that nearly destroyed her and her family. As a high school student, it was her first serious relationship.

She loved him, but what she got in return was not love. She got manipulated, verbally abused and insulted.

Any type of outside relationship this young woman had outside of her boyfriend was demeaned and discouraged. Any achievement she was proud of was insulted.

In fact, when this young woman was inducted into the honor society, her boyfriend suggested he might use her ribbon medal to hang himself in response.

Though her friends and family expressed concern, and convinced her to break it off, this manipulative partner contacted her in other ways. He waited for her outside of school. He sent messages through her friends. Despite her parents best efforts, they could not keep her from this relationship.

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Finally, in a last ditch effort, her parents pulled her out of school and kept her isolated for a month, finally enabling her to break the cycle. This young woman was able to move on to a healthy life and relationships. Others are not so lucky.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. According to the Center for Disease Control, teen dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional aggression within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner.

Teen dating violence is widespread with serious long-term and short-term effects. Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family. The 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 8% of high school students reported physical violence and 7% reported that they experienced sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months before the survey.

Healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect on a teen’s emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have short- and long-term negative effects on a developing teen. Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to be depressed or anxious, engage in unhealthy or risky behaviors, exhibit antisocial behaviors, and think about suicide.

Additionally, youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college. Often, in these teen relationships, the perpetrator is often painted as the victim by social circles or themselves, which makes it more complicated for the actual victim.

For the month of February, talk to your teens about abuse, healthy relationships and boundaries.

If you or someone you love needs help, call the National Domestic Violence helpline at 1−800−799−7233 or visit ddacinc06820.org.