Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Guest Author: Abe Rawlings, Education and Prevention Director 

Welcome to the first day of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month! For the next twenty-eight days, we are going to take measures at South Valley Services to prevent Domestic Violence through the scope of preventing Teen Dating Violence.

Why do we do this?

For starters, some young people starting new relationships can have a harder time spotting what can be red flags when they are new to the dating experience. Some things are obvious and blatantly wrong, while others are more subtle and can slip under the radar. In other words, it is easy to know that it is not okay for your partner to hit you. On the other hand, right and wrong can become grayer if they show uncomfortable obsession, or slowly push your friends away. Abuse comes in many forms, and it is all too easy to mistake it just as physical.

Let us move on to reason number two. Many of you may know someone who is in or just left an abusive relationship. Assuming you are close enough with them, my question is this: Have you ever talked with them about their past relationships while growing up? If you have, you may have already noticed a pattern. For example, I maintain a close friendship with someone from my teen years to this day. In a previous relationship, her boyfriend broke her wrist trying to force her not to physically leave. Going even further back in time, an intense argument with her mom’s boyfriend ended with a slap across the face. Moving further, verbal abuse from her mother was common.

What is my point? It is that when young people experience abusive relationships, they are vastly more likely to duplicate those experiences as they mature into adult relationships. With that in mind, does it now make sense why we have a Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and that we do outreach to youth on a weekly basis, even outside of February? Our mission is to end Domestic Violence. Prevention among teens means that we take measures to end it before it begins. Therefore, we teach them the red flags early on.