If you are currently in your teens or twenties, you are in an incredibly formative time of your life. You’re learning something every single day, and the experiences you have now will shape your life for years to come. Your romantic experiences and relationships will be especially impactful. Unfortunately, statistics show that as many as 1 in 3 teens in the United States will be abused by a romantic partner before they become adults.
In an attempt to help teens twenty-somethings break out of this cycle, February has been designated Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month. I dedicate a lot of my online mental health counseling practice to working with teenagers and young adults, so this topic is particularly close to my heart.
Raising Awareness Of Teen Dating Violence
The dating world can be confusing, scary, and intimidating – even after you’ve been in multiple relationships. Unfortunately, few teens get much support from their parents as they begin to navigate this new chapter of their lives. As a result, many teens dismiss abusive behavior as “normal.” They may feel ashamed, embarrassed, or scared to seek help from an adult or even a peer. Instead, they submit to the abuse and again.
Teen dating violence manifests in many different forms. Examples may include:
- Emotional Abuse – being told you are unlovable or unattractive, being yelled at for inexplicable reasons, being called names
- Physical Abuse – being hit, punched, kicked, or otherwise physically injured
- Sexual Abuse – being subjected to unwanted kissing or touching, being forced into having sex
- Digital Abuse – being stalked or harassed via social media, having inappropriate pictures of you be circulated throughout your school
Breaking The Cycle
When no steps are taken to break the cycle, it can become long-lasting and vicious. The longer it is allowed to continue, the harder it can be to break out of it. Even if one relationship ends, the victim may find themselves in another abusive situation with their next partner.
Though it may seem impossible, the best time to end the cycle of teen violence is always right now. Stand up for what you believe in and what you know you deserve. You are a strong, intelligent, capable, beautiful, and worthy of a loving, supportive relationship.
Being reminded of your personal self-worth is sometimes the hardest (but often the most crucial) step in breaking out of a violent or abusive relationship. If you are struggling with self-confidence or self-worth, you may be more likely to stay in abusive situations because you doubt the fact that you will ever be worthy of something better. But trust me – you are worthy! You deserve the world. It’s simply up to you to go out and get it. Never give up!