Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is a Time to Promote Safe, Healthy Relationships

Dating violence doesn’t only mean going to school with bruises. It’s not only having a partner who yells at you or belittles you.   

Dating violence can begin with someone who is pressuring you to do things that make you uncomfortable. Someone may ask you to ignore your friends and family. A person you’re dating may ignore you or threaten to leave if you don’t give in to a demand. Someone may text you, even when you have asked them not to. Those things can lead to physical violence and abuse. 

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, a time to learn about healthy and unhealthy relationships and how to recognize the difference. 

In 2019, 7.3 percent of Virginia high school students who participated in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey said they had experienced physical dating violence, while 6.9 percent said they had experienced sexual dating violence.  

It can be hard to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship, especially if our ideas about love come from songs or movies.  

According to the One Love Foundation, unhealthy relationships include the following:  

  • Intensity 
  • Possessiveness 
  • Manipulation 
  • Isolation 
  • Sabotage
  • Belittling 
  • Guilting 
  • Volatility 
  • Deflecting responsibility 
  • Betrayal 

What are the signs of a healthy relationship?  

  • Comfortable pace 
  • Trust 
  • Honesty 
  • Independence
  • Respect 
  • Equality 
  • Kindness 
  • Taking responsibility 
  • Healthy Conflict
  • Fun 

There are lots of resources to help you learn what a healthy relationship looks like. There is also help available if you are in an unhealthy relationship and need to get away.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Fast Facts: Preventing Teen Dating Violence page also offers tips on recognizing the signs of relationship violence and the consequences.  

You can reach out for help to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline: 866-331-9474 or 866-331-8453 (TDD). The line is available 24 hours, every day. A live online chat also is available from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. To chat with helpline staff, text “loveis” to 22522. 

Teen dating violence doesn’t just affect teens. It affects everyone, including parents, friends, teachers and communities. 

Learning about and raising awareness of dating violence is the first step toward healthy relationships.