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February brings awareness to teen dating violence

Viewpoints Editor

Published: Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 18:02

Misti Jones | The Houstonian

Misti Jones | The Houstonian

February is the time of the year known for love and compassion. However, many people tend to overlook another movement this month that needs publicity – teen dating violence awareness.

Teenagers and adults are often unaware that young adults from ages 14 to 20 experience dating violence. According to loveisrespect.com, 81 percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.

Young adults are in a vulnerable place, especially in high school. They enjoy the attention and the thrill that comes from dating but fail to realize when a relationship has gone beyond acceptable limits.

According to loveisrespect.org, approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a partner in one year, but 33 percent won’t admit that there is a problem to a trusting adult.

Without help, these teens who deal with unhealthy, abusive or violent relationships can suffer from numerous short-term and long-term effects. A study by the Center for Disease Control states victims of teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school and report binge drinking, suicide attempts and violent confrontations with others.

We need to understand that they don’t have to put up with physical, mental, sexual and/or emotional abuse from their partner. A relationship should be built around love, trust, support and communication, not fear.

Those who are in abusive relationships should know to never be afraid to tell someone their situation. Although it may be intimidating or embarrassing to talk to an adult, it could save your life. There are plenty of other people that will come along that will treat you with the love and respect you deserve. Don’t settle for less than your standards and don’t stay in a relationship built around controversy and abuse.

I’ve been in a relationship for more than four years and we’ve learned that communication is key when it comes to a healthy relationship. Being able to tell each other absolutely everything prevents secrets from being held and conclusions being drawn. When there’s a problem, we settle it with our words, not our fists.

Teen dating violence comes from many factors: immaturity, jealousy, cheating, a history of violence, lack of parental guidance and a lack of communication between partners. No matter what the reason, resorting to violence is never the sensible action to take.

The repercussions of teen dating violence are impossible to ignore – they hurt not just the young people victimized but also their families, friends, schools and communities.

My mom got married right out of high school to someone who she thought she loved. They had been together since they were 14 years old and she saw no wrong in him. It wasn’t until they were married that she saw his true nature. My mother’s ex-husband beat her during arguments and even broke her jaw once. This didn’t happen directly to me but because I am her daughter, I have felt much hatred and anger toward this man and any other partner who resorts to violence to solve problems.

All throughout February, organizations and individuals are coming together to shed light on the need to educate young individuals about dating violence. Bringing awareness to this will teach healthy relationship skills and prevent the harsh effects of abuse.

Dating abuse is a growing epidemic that can be prevented and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month hopes to do just that.

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