Dating Violence

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Teenagers and young adults often experience dating violence within their relationships. Statistics show that one in three teens experience violence in a dating relationship. Individuals aged 16-24 are at greatest risk for dating violence. Why is this? Teenagers and young adults are inexperienced in dating relationships, are pressured by peers to act violently, want independence from their parents, and tend to have more “romanticized” views of love. These are just a few factors that contribute to the epidemic of dating violence among young people.

Dating violence is also perpetuated by the way young people view themselves. Young men may believe they have the right to control their partner in any way they deem appropriate, their partner is a “possession” they own, they have the right to demand intimacy, and masculinity is shown through aggressiveness. Young women may believe
that they are solely responsible for solving any difficulties that arise in their relationship, that their partner’s jealousy and possessiveness is romantic, that abuse is normal because their friends are experiencing it, and that there is no one to ask for help.

Dating violence is becoming an increasing concern on college campuses where many layers of institutional oppression may exists in addition to the systems of power and control that already perpetuate violence in relationships. For instance, students who are trying to avoid their abusive partners can be tracked easily in classes and residence halls or they may be reliant on financial aid which is tied to grades and/or parental support. Students who are experiencing dating violence are likely to have lower grades or may have parents who deem them “unfit” to manage on their own if they disclose relationship abuse.

How can you help? Don’t be afraid to talk to your kids about their relationships. Adolescents, teenagers, and young adults often get mixed messages about how relationships are supposed to work through the media and are regularly observing unhealthy relationships at school and perhaps at home. Whether they listen attentively or roll their eyes and tell you they don’t want to talk about it – kids, in fact, do want someone who is willingly to discuss these important issues with them!

If you are experiencing difficulty approaching these topics with your children or suspect your child is in an unhealthy relationship, please call us for free, anonymous support at 724.656.STOP.