Ask Ava

Ask Ava, Episode 45: "What is Teen Dating Violence and How Can I Help End It?"

February 04, 2021 Ask Ava Season 1 Episode 45
Ask Ava
Ask Ava, Episode 45: "What is Teen Dating Violence and How Can I Help End It?"
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 45: "What is Teen Dating Violence and How Can I Help End It?"

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Today, we’re answering questions from teens about dating violence - what it looks like, and how teens can get involved with ending and preventing violence from happening in the first place. 

This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset, Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic violence response organization, providing services at no charge for survivors of dating and domestic abuse for over 40 years.  

Today's question from local teens is: What is teen dating violence, and how can I help end it? 

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month or TDVAM. Here are some fast facts for everyone to know: teen dating violence is common. Studies show that 1 out of 3 teens experiences violence from a partner before high school graduation.  

So, that’s about 1/3rd of your school. When the numbers are this high, there’s a good chance that friends or classmates are experiencing dating violence right now or they have in the past, and there’s a good chance you also know people who are making their partners feel unsafe. 

Dating violence is when one partner purposefully gains power and control over another, in a casual or serious romantic relationship. It has serious impacts on individuals, their families, and the school community. Dating violence leads to higher substance use rates, lower self esteem, it can lead to lifelong trauma, higher rates of depression and anxiety, and higher rates of self-harm, just to name a few. 

Abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, digital, and stalking.  

Also, teen dating violence can happen to any teen, no matter their race, location, gender identity, sexual orientation, or family income. It is often traumatic and carries long-term effects, again, not only for individual teens and their family and friends, but the school and community itself. Dating violence is a community issue! So, what can you do to help? 

Number 1 - spread this information! Share this podcast with someone. Check out our social media accounts and our website, www.safe-sound.org, for more information and facts about dating violence. Also, if you haven’t listened before, check out our previous Ask Ava podcast episodes for answers to questions from teens in our community about healthy relationships and dating abuse. Join us throughout the next three weeks of February as we look at some of the myths of teen dating abuse, what teens can do if they’re afraid or ashamed to reach out for help, and for some of the free services available to teens in abusive relationships. 

Number 2 – Host a Public Service Announcement or PSA in school or on social media. You could team up with a club you’re a part of to create infographics, photos, and posts about teen dating abuse. Just make sure you’re using information from reputable sources – check out Love is Respect, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and Safe+Sound Somerset to start.  

Number 3 – Join us for an event! This July, Safe+Sound Somerset is hosting our fifth annual SPEAK Teen Leadership Camp virtually. At this free week-long camp, high school students learn and practice leadership skills that allow them to make change on issues they care about, including dating abuse. Applications will actually go live soon on our website, so follow our social media to find out more.

Number 4 – Promote healthy relationships in your life. “Treat others the way you want to be treated” is the golden rule. It’s like a ripple effect; when you treat your friends and dating partners with respect and equality, these people are more likely to treat others the same way. 

And number 5 - If you have a friend who is a bully or is abusive (physically, verbally, sexually, etc.) towards their dating partner or friends, call out the behavior if it’s safe. If you ignore behavior like this, you send the signal that you think it’s okay for your friend to act this way. You can say something simple, like “stop.” Tell them that their behavior isn’t acceptable and it’s unsafe, and that they can get in trouble. Or, that respect benefits them in the long run. Also, people DO care about what their friends think. So, calling out inappropriate behavior might make your friend reconsider and think, “well, if I want my friends to like me, maybe I shouldn’t do this.” It’s worth the effort. 

If you’re a concerned friend or you are experiencing an unsafe relationship yourself, please know that there is always help and hope available, and it’s not your fault. 

If you want to speak with an expert on dating violence call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential hotline at 866-685-1122 for supportive listening, information, and safety planning. 

 Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.