Teen Dating Violence Awareness
Dating violence is more common than you may think, especially amongst teens and young adults. In fact, nearly one third of teen relationships are characterized as either unhealthy or violent.
Dating is an inevitable experience of life and it can be exciting to enter the dating world as a teen. However, healthy relationships take a lot of work and communication to build and maintain. Some teens lack the maturity to foster a healthy relationship, thus they find themselves in unhealthy or violent situations. Furthermore, in a survey of 500 teens and young adults, 57% waited six months or more before seeking any help regarding their toxic relationship. Additionally, 40% hadn’t talked about the abusive behavior they had experienced to anyone. It is important if you are in a dangerous relationship to seek help. Follow along as we discuss the impact and consequences of teen dating violence. Moreover, we will talk about the importance of awareness and prevention, as well as how therapy can help victims of teen dating violence.
Impact of Teen Dating Violence
Both the perpetrator of violence and the victim are impacted when teen dating violence happens. While the immediate impact may be humiliation and/or physical pain, there are a multitude of long-term consequences as well. Most notably, adolescents in abusive relationships often carry unhealthy patterns of violence into future relationships. Therefore, if those experiencing teen dating violence do not get the help and guidance they need as soon as possible, they could be subject to a lifetime of unhealthy relationships.
Targets of teen dating violence may experience a combination of physical, psychological, social, and economic consequences. In a physically abusive relationship, the target may suffer serious injury, even death. Unfortunately, targets of abuse are more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide due to increased rates of depression, anxiety, and fear. Those who endure abuse often lose confidence in themselves. They begin to doubt their own abilities, feelings, and decision-making ability. They may even become afraid to express feelings of anger, leaving them to bottle up their negative emotions. The coping methods a target develops in an abusive relationship can make it hard for them to maintain long-lasting or fulfilling relationships.
Teen dating violence can cause targets to feel lonely and isolated from their friends and family. Additionally, targets may feel intense shame or guilt about their situation. The pressures of being in a toxic relationship can cause targets to abandon their goals and dreams. They may also begin to experience problems at work, school, or other activities. Young people who experience abuse are more likely to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors and exhibit higher rates of substance abuse. This leaves targets of abuse vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies. Lastly, targets of abuse may suffer financially due to a build up of large doctor or lawyer expenses. They may also experience damage to their personal property, costing them money to repair.
Ultimately, these consequences can alter someone’s lifelong wellbeing. It is extremely important that we advocate for targets, listen to their stories, and make therapy more accessible. Therapy can help targets heal from the psychological wounds of abuse and provide them with the skills to develop healthy relationships in the future.
Perpetrators of teen dating violence also deal with life-altering consequences. They may end up getting arrested, spending time in jail, and/or developing a criminal record. With a criminal record, it can be harder to progress further in life. They may experience feelings of guilt or shame regarding their role in an abusive partnership. The guilt and shame can be so overwhelming that it causes the perpetrator to abandon dreams and goals. The perpetrator may also struggle with depression, anxiety, fear, and suicidal thoughts. They could begin to have problems at work, school, or other activities.
Much like targets of abuse, perpetrators may experience isolation from friends and family. Furthermore, perpetrators of violence also struggle to maintain long-lasting and fulfilling relationships. Oftentimes, perpetrators of teen dating violence have conflicts with authority figures, such as parents or other caregivers. They are also more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviors, causing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Perpetrators themselves may experience a build up of large doctor and lawyer expenses, harming them financially. Finally, perpetrators of teen dating violence may eventually lose the love and respect of their dating partner, and may even be broken up with.
It is important that we also help perpetrators get the help they need so they can improve their life and stop victimizing others. Children who grew up watching violence in close relationships, such as with their parents, are more likely to become perpetrators of violence themselves. Therapy can help perpetrators recognize their faults, deal with guilt in a productive way, and learn healthy relationship skills they may not have previously learned.
Awareness and Prevention
Bringing awareness to teen dating violence allows us, as a society, to better understand the warning signs and look out for teens around us who may be struggling. It also helps us teach younger generations about what a healthy relationship looks like, hopefully preventing teen dating violence in their future. Even better than awareness is prevention of the problem in the first place. The earlier the problem is recognized, the sooner it can be addressed.
Providing a safe platform for teens who have experienced dating violence to speak out, and amplifying their voices, works to help other teens feel less alone. Even a small glimmer of hope may convince a teen to seek help and reevaluate their own unhealthy relationship. Ultimately, it is on all of us to raise national awareness about teen dating violence and promote safe and healthy relationship standards.
If you or someone you love has been a part of teen dating violence, get help as soon as possible. It can be harder to heal the consequences of teen dating violence the longer it progresses. Again, those involved in teen dating violence are more likely to engage in abusive adult relationships if they do not receive help. As mentioned earlier, therapy is a key line of treatment for victims and perpetrators of teen dating violence. Therapy equips patients with the skills to effectively communicate with others, productively express feelings, and foster long-lasting, healthy relationships. Chriselda Santos, licensed psychotherapist and certified life coach, specializes in assisting people with relationship issues. She focuses on your strengths and capabilities to help you embrace change and adopt healthy, new behaviors. For more information about Chriselda’s non-judgemental, compassionate approach to therapy, visit her website. Click here for more ways to take action during TDVAM.