In a world where romantic love is often worshipped, and sometimes sought after as the only path to happiness, it is important to talk about relationships that are dysfunctional and abusive. More than 1 in 10 teens that have been on a date have also been physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last year. One in three teens also suffers some form of abuse from a dating partner, whether physical, emotional, sexual, mental or verbal. Abusive relationships often manifest out of a lack of self-esteem in a partner. Abusers seek out partners to prey upon, nurturing a feeling of control by abusing their victims and mentally and emotionally secluding them from support systems, such as family and friends.
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), this February, is a national effort to raise awareness and protect teens and those in their twenties, from violence and abuse in relationships. On the 1st of February, Governor John R. Kasich of Ohio recognized February as Teenage Dating Violence Awareness Month, encouraging “all communities, businesses, local governments, law enforcement and individuals to respond and work toward ending teen dating violence by supporting community efforts to empower teens to develop healthier relationships”.
Abuse within relationships can also include rape, date rape, stalking and emotionally blackmailing partners with the threat of suicide and self-harm should they leave. You might often find yourself afraid to speak your mind, share your emotions, reveal your thoughts or just be yourself when dating an abusive partner. Should you find yourself in an abusive relationship, reach out to family and friends for support. You should also seek out counselling and therapy to repair the damage to your mental health that they might have caused.
This February, wear orange to raise awareness about dating violence in your community and share pictures with the hashtag #orange4love. Follow #loveisrespect and #teenDVmonth on social media for more information on how to partake in Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Together, we can encourage ourselves to develop healthy relationships, and prevent further abuse.
You can read the personal story of a blogger who survived an unhealthy relationship here.
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