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The Reality of Dating Violence

Dating violence is a very prevalent issue in today’s society of teens and also adults. This form of violence is defined as controlling, abusive behavior in a romantic relationship.


Dating violence occurs way too frequently among teenagers. Almost one and a half million high school students nationwide experience physical violence from their dating partner in a single year. One in three adolescents in the United States is a victim of verbal, physical, sexual or emotional abuse from their partner. This is a figure that exceeds all other rates of youth violence.


Teen dating violence can consist of any one or any combination of the three types which are physical, emotional and sexual. Physical violence can include any action along the theme of kicking, hitting and shoving. Emotional violence consists of threatening or harming a partner’s sense of self-worth. Some examples of this are name calling, controlling or jealous behaviours, constant monitoring, shaming or even bullying. Sexual violence occurs when one partner forces the other partner to engage is sexual activities against his or her will.  


There are numerous signs that a person is involved in an abusive dating relationship. Some of these signs are possessiveness, extreme jealousy or insecurity, constant depreciating comments or put-downs, explosive temper, isolation from family and friends, erratic mood swings and physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way.


“If you have to question if your significant other is going to be angry, then that is a sign that it is not an okay relationship,” said Erica Cooper, guidance counselor.


Teens can become involved in a violent dating relationship many times without even realizing it. Today’s society can often send out a visual message and give examples of a violent relationship being normal. However, it is not. Some risks adolescents face of these type relationships include having symptoms of trauma such as depression and anxiety or exhibiting aggressive behaviors. Other risks can include using drugs or illegal substances, having a friend involved in dating violence, having conflicts with their partner or witnessing violence in the home.


Dating violence is a very serious issue for many reasons. Abusive relationships can last a lifetime after they begin. Teens who face dating abuse have the risk of long-term consequences such as alcoholism, eating disorders, thoughts of suicide and violent behavior.


These type situations are not hopeless. Communication, controlling emotional feelings, and treating others with respect can help make a relationship safe and healthy. Also, dating violence can be prevented if teens, families, organizations and communities work together and make a strategy to avert this violence.


“The first step a student should take when they are in a violent relationship is have a trusted adult that they can talk to,” said Cooper. “An adult can give you an unbiased avenue to get out of the situation.”


For students who need help with dating violence, counselors, teachers, and administrators are available to point them in the right direction and help access and meet the needs of the student.