By Anna Tseselsky, Contributing Blogger.
Did I ever turn in that essay due last week? What am I doing this weekend? When does the next season of Scandal come out? These are the innocent questions teenagers should be asking ourselves, not whether or not our dating partner will abuse us. Unfortunately, for many of us this isn’t always the case.
Teen dating violence is defined as “physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship”, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21% of high school females and 10% of high school males experience it. While dating violence is pervasive, young adults seldom tell friends and family about it and even more rarely report it to law enforcement. Without intervention the abuse continues, and without proper counseling, a sizeable amount of the youth population is left with deep, untreated psychological wounds. The negative effects dating violence produces can span years past the initial assault. Youth victims are more likely to struggle with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, as well as engage in high-risk behaviors like drugs and alcohol. Moreover, high school victims of dating violence are more susceptible to victimization in college.
While this issue is widespread, few adults and ever fewer teens know of it, how to identify it, and how to recognize when they themselves are in an unsafe situation. This is why the first step to stopping teen dating violence is to get people to talk about. When we treat abuse of any kind as a dirty secret, we allow it to fester in the dark. But by shedding light on this issue, we can finally bring justice to its victims. As young people, we can use the power of social media to create awareness in our communities as well as dialogue and transparency. We can also volunteer and support organizations like the Grateful Garment Project that provide material resources to victims of sexual violence and exploitation. While it may seem daunting, something as simple as donating a t-shirt or retweeting a statistic can make all the difference.
To learn more go to: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/teen-dating-violence-factsheet-a.pdf