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While this is often a hushed topic, the number of teens in the US who have experienced dating violence is very troubling. Some studies have shown that up to 19% of American teens have known the trauma of physical or sexual violence in romantic relationships, including stalking and harassment whether in-person or online. 

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month seeks to shine a light on these practices with the purpose of educating and informing to break this cycle of abuse.

History of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

The movement for National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month was spearheaded by teens in the city of Austin, Texas and eventually became a nationwide movement. The American Bar Association got involved with lobbying for the awareness of teen dating violence starting in 2004, advocating in Washington DC alongside adults and teens from states all over the nation. The event was celebrated in Texas and other states starting in 2006.

Finally, in 2010, US Congress declared February to be the inaugural observance of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. The event has been celebrated annually and growing in popularity throughout the country since that time.

How to Observe National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

With the purpose of ending teen dating violence, this event seeks to build more conversations around the topic while equipping teens with the resources and knowledge that can help them be safe. Consider some of these ways to observe National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month:

Learn the Warning Signs of Teen Dating Violence 

One of the most important ways to observe National Teen Dating Violence Month is to get more people educated, particularly teens and their families, about the warning signs that dating violence may be happening.

Consider some of these facts and signs about abusive relationships and get help if you or someone you know is experiencing these:

  • Isolation from friends and family, often with possessiveness or controlling behavior

  • Frequently being put down or minimized in front of others

  • Emotional outbursts, mood swings, temper or rage

  • Any form of physical harm, including pressure/force to have sex

Make a Safety Plan

In addition to being able to identify potentially abusive behaviors, it is important that teens are protected by having access to a safety plan that they can use if they ever feel unsafe. This should include a plan for safety at home, at school and online. Teens can also contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline to get help in creating a personalized safety plan and understanding how to leave an abusive situation.

Access Teen Dating Violence Resources

Many different organizations and groups are available to help teens who are in unhealthy or violent dating relationships. It is important that teens and their families know that they are not alone, that they know where they can get help from caring professionals. In addition to different local resources, check out some of these – and perhaps share them online in honor of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month:

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