By Kelly Thornborrow, Family Advocacy Program Educator
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month with the goal of bringing increased awareness to what teen dating violence is and how to prevent it.
Teen Dating Violence occurs when physical violence (ex. hitting, biting), psychological aggression (ex. gas-lighting), stalking, or sexual violence (ex. sexting) occurs in a relationship between individuals 17 and under.
According to Love is Respect, an initiative of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in three American teens may experience dating violence before adulthood. Furthermore, only about a third of those adolescents tell anyone about the abuse.
The prevalence of teen dating violence and reduced reporting frequency highlights the importance of raising awareness on the subject and providing skills and information for teens to build healthy relationships.
Teens do not need to be in an unhealthy or abusive relationship to have a discussion about healthy relationships and teen dating violence. Having open conversations can help to encourage teen’s recognition of healthy partnerships and the identification of teen dating violence.
Consider asking if your teen is already dating or has friends who are dating. Discuss what their boundaries are and their thoughts on healthy relationships. Some suggestions of qualities of healthy relationships to consider in your conversation:
Communication. Communication is incredibly important as part of healthy relationships and is the foundation of bonds of any relationship. This allows partners to better understand each other and feel valued. Effective and constructive communication may help address conflict and may facilitate growth in a partnership.
Respect. Healthy relationships allow for the respect of each partner, in their beliefs, thoughts, and feelings while respecting in each other as an individual. Respecting your partner’s boundaries and asking for consent is an important foundation of a healthy relationship.
Trust. Trust is a building block of a healthy relationship that provides safety and comfort in a relationship. Building trust is an ongoing part of a healthy relationship.
If you or someone you know is experiencing dating violence or domestic violence in USAG Bavaria, there are resources within the community to support you.
The ACS Family Advocacy Program has Domestic Violence Victim Advocates that provide information that supports victims of domestic violence and connects them to community resources while maintaining a level of confidentiality.
The 24/7 Domestic Violence Hotline that can be reached at, 0162-296-0661. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger please call the USAG Bavaria Military Police, 114 or 09662-83-3398.