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Teen dating violence (TDV) is a pervasive issue that affects young people across the US and beyond, including people of all genders, races, socioeconomic classes, and sexual orientations. Of these, young women, non-cisgender people, and non-heterosexual people experience TDV at the highest rates. Defined as a form of intimate partner violence, TDV can manifest as physical, sexual, or psychological aggression. It involves behaviors intended to harm, control, or instigate fear in a partner​​​​.

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Here’s what you need to know about TDV, how to prevent and get intervention for it, and ways to observe this TDV awareness month.

Understanding TDV and Its Prevalence in the US

To combat TDV, it’s crucial to know what it looks like:

  • •   Physical violence. Physical violence may include actions like hitting, kicking, or using a weapon. 
  • •   Psychological aggression. This can involve verbal abuse such as sexual insults or name-calling. Non-verbal aggressions include any attempt to control or intimidate a dating partner, including stalking, which often escalates to physical abuse over time. 
  • •   Sexual abuse. Sexual abuse includes coercion and assault, but also forced sexual contact of any kind. Technology has introduced new avenues for sexual abuse, such as publishing or sharing sexual photos or videos of a partner, or sexting them without their consent​​.

Alarmingly, TDV is more common than many realize. About 1 in 12 U.S. high school students who dated reported experiencing physical or sexual dating violence in 2019​​. Nearly 1.5 million high school students are physically abused by their partners each year, with survivors experiencing long-term consequences such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts​​​​.

Ways to Prevent TDV and Get Survivor Support

Prevention of TDV centers on fostering healthy relationships characterized by trust, honesty, 

respect, equality, and compromise. Early intervention is key. It requires teaching pre-teens and teens skills for maintaining healthy relationships, managing feelings, and communicating effectively in ways that do not place responsibility solely on the individuals or groups most at risk for experiencing TDV. It’s equally important to teach teens strategies for staying safe and getting support if they are experiencing or feel in danger of dating violence.

Ways to Observe Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Observing National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month in February offers a unique opportunity to raise awareness about TDV. This annual event emphasizes educating young people about dating violence, teaching healthy relationship skills, and breaking the cycle of abuse. It encourages everyone to take part in identifying TDV resources and creating a safer environment for teens. You can get involved by accessing educational materials, participating in events, and spreading awareness through social media and community outreach​​​​.

Protect Yourself and Others From Teen Dating Violence With CAWC

At Connections for Abused Women and Their Children (CAWC), we believe that everyone has a right to a life free of violence. Our mission to end teen dating and domestic violence is rooted in education, service, and advocacy. In addition to working toward broader social change, we provide empowerment-based and trauma-informed support in the form of shelter, counseling, and advocacy to individuals affected by domestic violence and their children. 

If you or someone you know is actively experiencing domestic or dating violence, don’t hesitate to call our 24-hour hotline at (773) 278-4566. For non-emergency support, reach out through our contact form today.

Learn more about teen dating violence and how you can stop it by signing up for our Kitchen Table Conversations webinars.