February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Author: Ashley Benedict


Along with Black History Month, February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. Approximately 1.5 million high school students in the U.S. experience physical abuse from their partner. 3 in 4 parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence. It is due to these numbers that abuse in teen relationships is such an important conversation.

What is teen dating violence?

Teen dating violence is “defined as a pattern of abuse or threat of abuse against teenaged dating partners, occurring in different forms, including verbal, emotional, physical, sexual and digital. TDV occurs across diverse groups and cultures.” Though this definition is essentially the same as domestic violence in adult relationships, teen dating violence is different in the forms it can take as well as the experiences of the victims. It’s also far more challenging to seek resources as well as provide them in situations such as this.

What are the numbers?

  • In a single year, 1.5 million high school students will experience physical abuse from a dating partner.
  • Nearly 20.9% of female high school students and 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.
  • 1/3 of adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of verbal, emotional, sexual, and physical abuse from a dating partner.
  • 1 in 10 high school students have been purposefully hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a dating partner.
  • Girls between the ages of 16-24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence – 3 times the national average.
  • 94% of female victims aged 16-19 have been victimized by a dating partner; 70% of female victims aged 20-24 have been victimized by a dating partner.
  • 43% of dating college women reported experiencing abusive behaviors from their partner.
  • Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12-18.
  • Nearly half (43%) of college women report experiencing violent dating behaviors.
  • 57% of college students say it’s difficult to identify abuse; 58% say they don’t know how to help someone experiencing it.
  • 1 in 6 (16%) of college women have been sexually abused in a relationship.
  • Over 13% of college women report that they have been stalked. Of these, 42% were stalked by a boyfriend or ex-boyfriend.
  • Date rape among college students accounts for 35% of attempted rapes, 22.9% of threatened rapes, and 12.8% of completed rapes.
  • Violent relationships in adolescence put victims at a higher risk of substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, and further domestic violence.
  • Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls 6 times more likely to become pregnant or get an STI.
  • 1/2 of youth who are victims of domestic abuse and rape have attempted suicide.
  • Only 33% of teens who have experienced dating violence have told anyone.
  • 81% of parents don’t believe teen dating violence is an issue.
  • 82% of parents believe they could identify signs of abuse in their children, but 58% could not identify all of the warning signs.
  • Teen dating violence runs across race, gender, and socioeconomic lines. Both males and females are victims, but boys and girls are abusive in different ways:
    • Girls are more likely to yell, threaten to hurt themselves, pinch, slap, scratch, or kick
    • Boys injure girls more severely and frequently

Here are the main events:

The most important step to bringing awareness to any issue is education, of course, but here are a few events this month you can join to help bring awareness:

Respect Week

This weeklong event is “a special way for young people to raise awareness about healthy relationships and dating abuse” from February 13-17. The theme this year is: “Love is respect” in honor of the 10th anniversary of the organization Love Is Respect.

During this week, you can take to social media and share some of the above statistics using hashtags like: #RespectWeek2017, #orange4love (on Wear Orange Day), #teenDVmonth/#TDVAM, #loveisrespect (share what love and respect mean to you!)

Encourage others to join the cause! Have conversations with your friends, family, coworkers, and more. Share the statistics and try to facilitate discussions on how we can combat these numbers and promote healthier relationships in teens and young adults. Reach out to staff, faculty, and student organizations and find out whether or not they are hosting events. If not, see if you can coordinate an event! Contact nonprofit organizations related to this issue to figure out how you can help the cause!

Using student-led platforms, e.g., newspaper and radio, can be quite effective. Contact the Lanthorn staff to pitch the idea of covering this topic, and perhaps even volunteer to be interviewed and share the facts.

Wear Orange Day

Wear Orange Day is a national day of awareness where everyone is encouraged to wear orange in honor of Teen DV Month. This year, it will be held on February 14. You can wear orange shirts, nail polish, ribbons, jewelry, shoes or anything else you can think of! Tell people why you are wearing orange and post pictures and updates on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtags #Orange4Love and #RespectWeek2017.

National Respect Announcement

“With Valentine’s Day behind us, we’d like to remind you that everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. Remember, love has many definitions, but abuse isn’t one of them. If you or someone you know has a question about a relationship, healthy or unhealthy, visit loveisrespect.org or text “loveis” to 22522.”

Share this announcement on social media, with your peers or professors, or even hang banners/fliers on campus! (Be sure to get permission first.)

Get Involved!

These Hands Don’t Hurt

Set up a large mural where passing students can sign a pledge committing to nonviolence in their relationships. Let them sign the pledge by printing their hand with paint on the mural or tracing their hand in chalk on the sidewalk. Have a table nearby with handouts the students can take with them after they sign the pledge.

Orange Yarn

Give people orange yarn to wrap around their wrists and help spread the message about healthy relationships! You don’t have to give a speech every time that you give someone yarn, but often, people will ask you why you are doing it. Then someone later in the day will see that person and ask why they are wearing it. Eventually, it can reach the whole campus and raise awareness on a bigger scale!


Get permission (if necessary) to chalk up (write a message with chalk on the ground) a regularly frequented walkway on campus. Your message could be something as simple as “February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.” You could also rally the artists on campus to make a beautiful chalk mural.

One of the most effective way to help protect young adults from dating violence is to contact your Members of Congress and ask them to:

  • Expand the federal definition of domestic violence to including dating violence and stalking.
  • Introduce, cosponsor, and vote in favor of legislation establishing and funding classroom-based programs to educate middle and high school students about healthy relationships, domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking.
  • Support legislation providing additional funding for local program initiatives that provide counseling services to youth and children who are abused by dating partners and/or witness domestic violence.
  • Fund college campus programs aimed at increasing evidence-based domestic and sexual violence education, prevention, and intervention.
  • Increase funding for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs.
  • Encourage local schools and youth programs to train teachers, school counselors, and athletic coaches on how to recognize children and teens who are victims of intimate partner violence.
  • Provide educators with resources and prepare them to intervene in domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking situations.

All information provided by ncadv.org


If you or someone you know is in need of help, please refer to the resources below.

GVSU Sexual Assault, Dating/Domestic Violence, and Stalking Resources: Victim’s Rights and Options


Domestic Violence Services: National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Sexual Assault Services: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

Child Abuse Services: ChildHelp is a national organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Call their 24/7 hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453).

Counseling Services: Support groups and other mental wellness facilitators are available at Boys Town.  Good Therapy can also connect you with counseling services.

Legal Services: Resource for legal advocacy, legal representation, court accompaniment, etc. are available at Women’s Law Initiative, Legal Services Corporation and The Legal Aid Society. At WomensLaw.org, you can look up dating violence statutes by state, as well as information about state laws regarding restraining orders.  Legal Momentum explains some of the issues that affect workplace rights and equality, including sex discrimination & sexual harassment in the workplace.

Housing: National Runaway Safeline, Alternative House, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development can help you find youth shelters, transitional housing, etc.  Social Serve is also worth looking into for income-based housing. The Salvation Army, YWCA, Homeless Shelter Directory and Women’s Shelter Directory are all organizations that can assist the homeless in finding safe places to sleep.

LGBTQ: Access LGBTQ-friendly resources, services and support by contacting the Northwest Network, GLBT National Help Center and The Trevor Project.  Other great resources are The GLBT Talkline at 1-888-843-4564 and GLBT Youth Talkline at 1-800-246-7743. For transgender folks in crisis, The Trans Lifeline is available by phone every day of the week at 877-565-8860.

Other Resources: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – available 24/7 by phone at 1-800-273-8255 and by chat. For similar crisis intervention, try chatting with I’m Alive, or you can text START to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

If you want information about and/or help with mental health issues (from eating disorders to addiction to self-harm and everything in between), you can call Reach Out at 1-800-448-3000 or check out Half of Us. 1-800-DONT-CUT (366-8288) is the S.A.F.E. Alternatives information line.

Your Life Your Voice is another organization that supports teens and young adults experiencing crises like bullying, abuse from family members, depression, gang violence, or other overwhelming situations. They’re available by phone, chat, text and email.

For parents with questions, Parenting.org from BoysTown can be a helpful resource.

The Polaris Project operates the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

For questions about sexual health, Planned Parenthood and Scarleteen are excellent resources.


For local resources, contact Safe Haven Ministries and the West Michigan YWCA. These two organizations work with temporary housing for abuse survivors. They also work frequently with volunteers, so if you are interested in this issue, they are always looking for more help!

The GVSU Women’s Center is also a good resource for getting involved. We are currently looking for Peer Educators to speak with students about the realities of sexual assault. Applications are due by February 22. It’s On Us  is a program facilitated by Women’s Center staff to train students how to be active bystanders when it comes to sexual assault. There is also RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) Program, which teaches physical defense and realistic tactics for women to fight back when potentially attacked.


Let your voice be heard and spread awareness on teen dating violence!

All information retrieved from http://www.loveisrespect.org/ 


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