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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month:

Everything You Need to Know

Table of Contents

The month of February is known as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month or TDVAM. This month-long campaign is dedicated to offering education, awareness, resources, and preventative practices for anyone who may experience teen dating violence.

The campaign was recognized by Congress in 2010 and now takes place in classrooms, youth groups, online, special seminars, and even in homes throughout the month of February.

Teen Dating Violence not only affects the teens but their parents, teachers friends, and communities. 1 in 11 female teens and 1 in 14 male teens have reported experiencing relationship violence in a single year according to the CDC.

Awareness and education is the best way for you to prevent it from happening to your teen. February is all about continuing the discourse about the effects that teen dating violence has on teens and their communities.

What Is Teen Dating Violence?

Teen dating violence is an all-encompassing term for the multitude of experiences that teens in unhealthy relationship dynamics may face. This can include sexual assault and sexual coercion. It also refers to stalking, emotional abuse, and manipulation. In the extreme, teen dating violence refers to physical abuse at the hands of a romantic partner experienced by teenagers.

Dating violence can take place in many forms; online, in person, or through other technologies. TDV is a type of intimate partner violence that includes the following behaviors.

Physical Violence

Physical violence occurs when an individual physically hurts or tries to hurt another person by hitting, kicking, punching, or using any other type of physical force.

Sexual Violence

This occurs when a partner attempts to force the other to take part in sex or other sexual activities when the other partner refuses to or does not consent. Sexual violence can also occur in a non-physical way such as sharing explicit photos of a partner without permission/consent.

Psychological Aggression

Psychological aggression occurs when a partner uses nonverbal or verbal communication with the intent to hurt the individual both mentally and emotionally.


The act of stalking occurs when a partner repeatedly or unintentionally notices or contacts the victim in such a way that causes them to be afraid of their safety, or the safety of someone close to them.

Who Is at Risk?

Of course, any teen has the possibility of unfortunately entering into an unhealthy or abusive and violent relationship. However, there are certain factors that put some teens at a higher risk than others of being the victim or perpetrator of teen dating violence.

First of all, being a teen at all creates the risk for unhealthy relationship dynamics. Without education on the part of teachers and parents, teens can have difficulty communicating about emotions, experience peer pressure they don’t know how to handle, and navigate the worlds of drugs and alcohol for the first time. Many of them are also dealing with teens’ mental health problems that make navigating relationships difficult.

Teens are at an added risk to become the victim of teen dating violence if they’ve previously experienced physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse at the hands of anyone.

They are also at more risk if they’ve experienced injury from a previous partner and witnessed or experienced violence in the home as a child. The final risk factor is if there’s drug or alcohol abuse taking place on either or both sides of the relationship.

There are also risk factors involved in creating perpetrators of teen dating violence. And it’s important to remember that often perpetrators of teen violence are victims in some way themselves. The root of their violence should be addressed equally to consequences for their actions.

These risk factors include witnessing violence in the home as a child or experiencing major trauma including child abuse. Using alcohol and drugs and being involved within groups with regular dating violence also increase the risk of becoming a perpetrator.

Mental Health Problems Teens Face

Individuals who experience dating violence as teens are more likely to exhibit mental health issues. Issues can include things like antisocial behaviors, anxiety, and depression, engage in unhealthy habits and behaviors such as vaping, drug and alcohol use, and suicidal ideations. These symptoms and mental health issues can even carry on into adulthood.

Depression & Anxiety

Depression and anxiety can lead to feelings of inferiority, helplessness, and low self-esteem. TDV victimization may cause an individual to believe that they cannot prevent it. These feelings can also lead a person to believe that they are weak or less than, making them an easy target for teen dating violence.

Trauma and PTSD

People with a history of victimization and exposure to traumatic events or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often will have trouble recognizing dangerous situations and re Those with a history of victimization or exposure to traumatic events, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and dissociation, may have trouble noticing dangerous situations and responding to threats.

Discussing Teen Dating Violence With Your Teen

You can start the TDVAM activities within your own home. And, in fact, you should start it there! By opening up the conversation about teen dating violence with your own teens, you show them that you are a safe confidant to have should they start experiencing it.

You also may learn something about healthy relationship characteristics to carry into your own relationship and set a good example for your teen. As you start any of these discussions, remember to stay non-judgmental and supportive.

Warning Signs of Teen Dating Violence

Before entering a conversation with your teen, you should know the warning signs of teen dating violence. Familiarize yourself with these in order to recognize them in your own teen’s behavior and so that you can have a complete and informed conversation with them about what they should look for and stay away from.

A relationship may be becoming unhealthy if a partner is demanding access to social media accounts. If they breach privacy by checking online accounts without permission there is an unhealthy amount of control taking place.

You should be worried if you notice your teen’s partner putting them down publicly, talking down to them, or isolating them from their friends and family.

If you see any of these red flags, it’s important to not jump to conclusions and to not place blame on your teen. At the same time, it’s your duty to remove them from the unsafe situation and dynamic and to discuss your concerns with them in a supportive, educated manner.

Healthy Relationship Characteristics

A good way to approach the teen dating violence conversation with your family can be to focus on the positives (especially if you have no reason to believe your teen has faced violence yet).

Demonstrate healthy relationships with your own partner for your teen to observe, and sit down to talk to them about what a healthy relationship looks like. Here are a few characteristics that all healthy relationships have:

You can outline these for your teen and then give real-life examples of when they may have seen those characteristics in action.

Examples of Healthy Relationship Characteristics

Examples of healthy communication are using “I” statements even while arguing, bringing up concerns right away, and knowing that you can talk about anything with your partner.

Respect is shown by recognizing and honoring boundaries within a relationship, supporting your partner’s thoughts and feelings, and speaking to each other in a kind manner.

Equality matters in terms of both partners having equal say in discussions, equal opportunity to pursue their goals, and equal support in their endeavors.

Honesty and trust go hand in hand. A couple should be able to talk openly about anything they have concerns about and have a responsibility to do so. This creates a relationship of trust where partners feel comfortable letting each other go where they want, spend time with who they want, and more.

Boundaries and consent are also related. Healthy boundaries can include what each partner is comfortable with physically and emotionally. For example, someone may have the boundary that they don’t accept PDA.

Consent is the healthiest of boundaries and is necessary in any and all relationships. The most common example of consent in romantic relationships is physical consent. Remind your teens that they must enthusiastically agree to physical interaction between them and their partner in order for it to be consensual.

Make It A Discussion

This can all feel like a lot to try to cover with your teens. Where do you start and how do you keep it from feeling like a lecture. Here is a couple of discussion starts that can lead to addressing the warning signs of teen dating violence and the healthy relationship characteristics. These questions are a good way to make sure the conversation is two-sided instead of just a list of Dos and Don’ts.

Discussion Questions

How does dating usually go at your school? Ask about how long relationships last, who gets in relationships, and how the couples tend to treat each other.

Do you think gender roles play a part in dating? By asking this question you can gauge whether your teens see relationships as equal and if each party would receive mutual respect.

What is your opinion on sexting? No teen should be sexting because it is participating in the distribution of child porn. While this should be abundantly clear in your conversation, make sure that your teen knows that it’s safe to tell you if they’ve participated or have been coerced into participating. You can only help them in a situation if you know about it.

Do you have adults in your life who you feel comfortable talking about dating with? Approach this conversation with an open mind. It’s okay if you aren’t their first choice to talk to about relationships. You may just be too “parental” for it. Just make sure that there is someone they can talk to. Counselors, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other close, reliable adult figures are good options.

Have you ever been disrespected by a romantic partner before? Be prepared to hear an answer you didn’t expect from this question. Don’t be mad that they didn’t tell you before. Be ready to listen to them here and now and to offer them any resources they need.

Encourage Healthy Self-Relationships

At the end of the day, some of the people safest from relationship violence are the people who have the most self-respect and self-love. Teens who know their personal value are less likely to take disrespectful treatment from others.

You can bolster self-esteem through encouraging words and support towards their endeavors. Involving teens in adult conversation is also a great way to improve their self-esteem because they know that you see their ideas as important. Encourage your teen to say positive things about themself and to give themself new challenges.

You can also encourage your teen to practice self-care. Teach them that the wellness of their mind and body should come first in their life. Self-care includes healthy eating, exercise, relaxation, a good sleep schedule, positive self-talk, and rewarding hobbies.

How To Participate

You don’t have to do this all alone! There are many events, seminars, and groups to participate in during the month of February. Here are some of our picks.

That’s Not Cool Ambassador Program

This program is great for teens who are passionate about this cause and wish to get more involved. Ambassadors complete monthly challenges which educate and inspire their peers, friends, family, and the community. It offers the opportunity for teens to provide their own unique voices to an important conversation pertaining to their wellness.

What's Real Tool Kit

People with a history of victimization and exposure to traumatic events or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), often will have trouble recognizing dangerous situations and re Those with a history of victimization or exposure to traumatic events, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and dissociation, may have trouble noticing dangerous situations and responding to threats.

The Teen Dating Violence Workshop From Women Against Abuse

The organization, Women Against Abuse, has a workshop for high school students that educates on healthy relationships, dynamics of abusive relationships, tech and dating, and helpful resources. You can request a trained member to lead a workshop in your community, or you can receive your own training to lead one yourself.

Help Resources

Education and awareness are the first steps to preventing teen dating violence, but what should teens do if they’re already experiencing it? Luckily, there is an abundance of resources available to teens today. Here are some useful ones to share with your teen or to promote in social media posts and physical posters.

Confidential Support

If a teen simply needs someone to advocate for them and talk to them they can contact a hotline. These hotlines are all confidential and employ professional counselors:

You can also encourage your teen to seek regular counseling from a professional therapist, counselor, or psychologist to address ongoing concerns.

LGBTQ+ Specific Support

Teens in the LGBTQ+ community are at even more risk because of the stigma behind their relationships, closeted relationships, and some feelings of personal shame. Make sure that these LGBTQ+ resources are openly available so that closeted teens don’t need to out themselves to reach them:

POC Specific Support

Members of the POC community may feel more comfortable relaying their relationship problems to supportive people of the same background. They can find support at these organizations:

Getting the Most Out of TDVAM

Teen dating violence awareness month is an opportunity to grow in closeness and intimacy with your teen and ensure their safety. No teen should have to go through relationship violence or abuse. And it can be prevented through awareness, knowledge, and open conversation between teens and adults. Do your part in stopping teen dating violence by participating this February.

If you’re concerned about your teen’s wellbeing don’t hesitate to reach out.  Contact us today to talk to a professional in teen mental health care.


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