May 1, 2020

Teen Dating Violence

Prevention at Home Video Education Series

YWCA Spokane staff have joined together to create a unique online engagement opportunity focused on cultivating increased community education and awareness surrounding issues related to intimate partner domestic violence. The eleven-part video series presents engaging, educational content for individuals from any background or current knowledge base. The videos and blog posts also offer watchers an opportunity to get to know YWCA Spokane advocates on a personal level; each contributor brings their own personality into their writing and presentation style. Each topic within the series has its own blog post, like this one, including a video. All of the other topics in the series are linked below. As you watch these videos and read the blog posts, we hope that you will gain more knowledge, explore topics that you may not have been exposed to, and empower yourself and those around to be in healthier, happier relationships. Thank you for taking the time to further your education, awareness, and understanding surrounding these critical issues.


Teen Dating Violence

Teen Dating Violence, much like Domestic Violence, is the pattern of behaviors exhibited to establish and maintain power and control from one partner over another. This is an intimate form of abuse that occurs in the relationships of young people. 

It is pertinent that this topic is discussed with youth and adults alike. Recent surveys show that a majority of parents and caregivers either don’t know or don’t believe that teen dating violence is an issue, when in fact, 1 in 3 teens experience abuse in their relationships. The risks of abuse, as well as barriers to support and services, increase when a young person is already experiencing other forms of adversity. The rates of violence increases for those in marginalized communities, with higher rates of abuse being reported by females, LGBTQ+ individuals, and youth of color. 

Our youth may not always feel comfortable telling us, or may not recognize, that there is something wrong in their relationship. This may be because the unhealthy or abusive behaviors have been normalized, and/or they have been threatened or otherwise manipulated. There are also several reasons as to why a youth may not feel safe or comfortable to leave the relationship, and why they may stay. It’s important to empower youth to make the best choices for them and respect that they know their relationship best. It is also important to keep in mind that recognizing red flags is often difficult for the person experiencing the abuse.

It is important that we are building safe, stable and positive connections with our youth, as well as modeling what healthy relationships look like for our youth. It is also pertinent to have on-going conversations with our children and teens about what is healthy and what is not, and teaching them healthy relationship skills. With that, we should also be continuously educating ourselves  as parents, caregivers, and community members, about the warning signs and impact of teen dating violence. Concepts of consent, healthy boundaries, communication, trust and respect are all things that can be taught at an early age and built upon throughout one’s life, even before it comes to starting to date and continuing into adulthood.

Some signs to look for that a youth may be experiencing abuse in the relationship, or that a relationship may be unhealthy, include but are not limited to:

 Becoming withdrawn, losing interest in activities once enjoyed, becoming aggressive or controlling, too much time together, acting anxious or jumpy, constantly making excuses for partner’s behavior, getting into trouble at school or with the law, marks or bruises, broken property, lowered self-esteem, and more. It’s also important to acknowledge that it can at times be difficult to recognize signs of abuse, particularly if the couple seem happy.

Abuse is not always physical. It can include verbal, emotional, sexual, financial and other forms of unhealthy behaviors. This can be seen as putting down or belittling the partner, using social status or peer pressure against them, threatening to “out” a partner with their gender identity or sexual orientation, isolating them from friends and family, and other tactics that establish power and control. For a more detailed view, please refer to the power and control wheel at loveisrespect.org.

If your youth discloses concerns about what they are experiencing in the relationship, or you suspect abuse, it’s important to provide the young person with validation, empathy, and support. Acknowledge what behaviors you are noticing that are concerning you, ask the youth if they’ve noticed the same things and how they are feeling about it, validate their feelings, don’t give them ultimatums (chances are they are already experiencing loss of power and control in the relationship), and connect them with support and resources, as able and appropriate.

Furthermore, it should never be dismissed as “teen drama,” or “young love”, regardless of the person’s age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, social status, or the length of the relationship. Nor should blame be placed upon a victim. Dating violence can continue to get worse over time, and in some cases, has even been fatal. It can be a very confusing time for the youth experiencing the abuse.

For more information, check out LoveisRespect.org for resources and supports specific to teen dating violence and sexual assault, or contact an advocate at YWCA Spokane for local support and resources.


Video and written content for this topic within the Prevention at Home series provided by YWCA Spokane staff member, Jessi Taylor.


Continue Learning with Prevention at Home!

Explore more topics on your journey empowering yourself and those around you by visiting the following blog posts and watching the other videos in our prevention at home series.

  1. Services at YWCA Spokane
  2. What is Intimate Partner Domestic Violence
  3. Red Flags and the Relationship Spectrum
  4. Respect, Boundaries, and Consent
  5. Teen Domestic Violence
  6. Why Do They Stay or Go Back
  7. Trauma and the Brain
  8. Safety Planning
  9. Self Care
  10. Self Regulation
  11. How to Help a Friend

External Resources for Continuing Education

YWCA Spokane staff members have collected the following external links for you to further your education.


YWCA SPOKANE IS HERE FOR YOU

If you or someone you know is impacted by intimate partner domestic violence, know that confidential advocates are always available through our 24hr helpline services by calling 509-326-2255, emailing help@ywcaspokane.org, or texting 509-220-3725.

To learn more about accessing additional services through YWCA Spokane during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit ywcaspokane.org/services. Thank you!

By: Mia Morton

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