One in ten high school students will experience some form of dating violence. But the problem does not lie only in high school: one out of three girls in the U.S. will experience dating violence, and between the ages of 16 to 24, the number of women who will experience it is three times the national average. Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is a crucial time to spread information, as well as learn more and understand the problem.
Physical abuse is the most common form of dating violence. Physical abuse includes “any intentional act causing injury or trauma to another person by way of bodily contact.” Physical abuse is often used by the abuser to establish a sense of control over their partner. However, physical abuse is not the only method. Verbal and emotional abuse have become more prominent as the use of smart phones has grown. Now, it is easy for the abuser to contact their victim, and make them feel unsafe no matter where they are. This form relates to digital abuse, the most common method spread across social media. While social media is an incredibly valuable resource, it only makes it easier for abusive messages to spread. Sexual abuse entails forcing a partner to engage in acts that make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe, or continuing acts if they are under the influence, have said no, or have not given express consent. Spiritual abuse, which one in four females and one in seven males are victims of, is often the most overlooked form of abuse. Spiritual abuse includes abusers forcing their religion upon a victim, shaming a victim for practicing their religion, or using religious texts or beliefs to minimize or rationalize abusive behaviors.
Victims tend to feel helpless while they are suffering, which is why staying informed and providing your friends and family with resources is incredibly beneficial. As a parent, it is important to talk to your children and ensure they understand what comprises a healthy relationship, and that an abusive relationship is never okay. As a friend, if you think someone is in an abusive relationship, talk to them and inform them of the available resources.
Tuesday, February 13th is Wear Orange Day, a nationally recognized day dedicated to spreading awareness of teen dating violence month. We encourage everyone to wear anything orange: nail polish, ribbons, jewelry, and more. The national Twitter and Instagram hashtags are #Orange4Love, #HandsUnite and #RespectWeek2018. Share your pictures from Wear Orange Day using these hashtags to share your stories on why you are wearing orange.
Raising awareness of teen dating violence is extremely important, which is why staying informed and knowledgeable about the topic is crucial. Don’t forget to wear orange on February 13th to spread awareness about the cause. #Orange4Love #HandsUnite #RespectWeek2018.
Written by Camille McElroy – Camille McElroy is a senior at The Hockaday School and the president of the Genesis auxiliary Students Tackle Abusive Relationships (STAR). STAR was founded to give teens in Dallas a chance to come together in support of the Genesis mission. STAR gives students the chance to teach others around them the importance of domestic violence awareness, particularly surrounding teen dating violence. Members of STAR volunteer together on a monthly basis to help us further our message to the next generation so they can be a part of ending domestic violence. For more information, visit www.genesisshelter.org/star.