February is marked as ‘Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month’ by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. Domestic abuse is a very serious problem but we don’t expect teenagers to go through it. We assume that domestic violence is only a problem for adults. People think that only adult relationships have abuse-related issues. Many people even think that domestic violence doesn’t happen in teen relationships because they don’t live together. The reality is very different.
According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence more than 1.5 million high school students suffer violence. It is domestic violence but its referred to as dating violence, since the couple is not living together. The most alarming fact is that 75% of parents have never talked to their children about domestic abuse.
Why teens are susceptible to domestic violence
Adults are aware of the dangers of domestic violence but many of us are still trapped in abusive relationships. Imagine how easier it is for teenagers to fall into such a relationship. It is the perfect storm for being an abuse victim. Let’s look at all the factors which make it necessary to talk to teenagers about domestic violence. The biggest one is that teenagers often don’t know right from wrong. Remember when we were teenagers? We did some stupid things that we shouldn’t have. Teenagers are still mentally developing, which makes it easier to manipulate them.
Another problem is that these are the formative years of these people. Teenage is when you begin to create your personality. Suffering abuse at such a tender time can have lifelong consequences. Another problem is that teenagers are very emotional and when they believe they love someone, they hardly give up on them, even if they are abusive.
It isn’t about education or economic classes. Rich, poor, educated, uneducated – all teenagers are under the risk of domestic violence. That is why this month is observed by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. They know that kids are entering the world of dating without even knowing about the warning signs of dating violence. They don’t know how much control the other person should have on them. They don’t know what crosses the line. They often mistake obsessiveness or abusiveness as a symbol of love itself, which just makes it harder for them to be extracted from that situation.
That is why every parent needs to talk to their children about dating violence. We need to teach our kids what is right and what isn’t. We need to teach them that they have agency and need to stay away from abusive people. Most importantly, we need to tell them the signs of an abusive relationship so that they can determine for themselves if the behavior of their partner is suitable.
Community Homeless Solutions helps many people who have been domestic abuse victims. You would be surprised if you knew how many of these people have been suffering abuse from a tender age. Let’s help teenagers make better choices and stay safe.