February – Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Teen dating violence (TDV) is a type of intimate partner violence. The violence can be in the form of emotional, psychological, sexual, and physical abuse. It occurs during the dating relationship among teenagers. Dating violence is also spotted not only among teens but also in adolescents.
TDV includes four types of behaviour:

  • Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
  • Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act, sexual touching, or a non-physical sexual event (e.g., sexting) when the partner does not or cannot consent.
  • Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally and/or exert control over another person.
  • Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of someone close to the victim.

Unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have severe consequences and short- and long-term negative effects on a developing teen. Youth who are victims of TDV are more likely to:

  • Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviours, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
  • Exhibit antisocial behaviours like lying, theft, bullying or hitting
  • Think about suicide

Violence in an adolescent relationship sets the stage for problems in future relationships, including intimate partner violence, sexual violence perpetration and victimization throughout life. For example, youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.

What to do when you are involved in TDV:

  • Seek support from an adult or a responsible peer
  • Report the incidences to the police
  • Know when it is time to walk-away

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