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By Kira Doar, AWARE® Program Director

Without a doubt, something feels different right now. Survivors of power-based personal violence, including sexual assault, sexual harassment, and intimate partner violence, have come forward to share their stories on a national stage. And not only are we hearing their stories, but the popular response has actually been to believe them! So now that the previously unawares portion of our population has come to understand how rampant these forms of violence are within our society, what’s next? Use Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (#TDVAM) as an opportunity to prioritize prevention!

    

As media coverage of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements ramped up, so did invitations for JCADA and other Victim Service Providers to participate in panel events, provide trainings to community members, and help review organizational policies. That’s awesome… but it’s not enough. We live in a world of reaction in which we frequently find ourselves organizing around crises. Much like an epidemic, we can’t just respond to treat the symptoms, we need to think about how to prevent it in the future. As #MeToo headlines have inspired adults to rethink their personal and professional interactions with others, we need to remember #TeensToo.


According to national data, one in three adolescents in the United States is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds other types of youth violence.1 Dating and dating violence are also beginning earlier, with research reporting them occurring as early as 7th grade.2 In addition to what young people experience and witness among their peers, five million children in the United States witness domestic violence each year, making them three times more likely to repeat the cycle in adulthood.3


As Rory Gory points out, “We do not go from healthy personal and professional relationships to serial sexual violations in just one step…. Sexual abuse begins by normalizing abusive behavior, at home and in the workplace, when young people begin to date.”4 Institutionalizing violence prevention education can support a culture change. Start the conversation about healthy relationships, equality, and respect with the young people in your life. Have it early and have it often!

To learn more about #TDVAM and how you can show your support this month, check out the AWARE® Teen Advisory Board's #TeenDVMonth toolkit or bring an AWARE® dating violence prevention workshop to your school.


 Vagi, K. J., Olsen, E. O. M., Basile, K. C., & Vivolo-Kantor, A. M. (2015). Teen dating violence (physical and sexual) among US high school students: findings from the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

2 Hokoda, A., del Campo, M. A. M., & Ulloa, E.C. (2012). Age and Gender Differences in Teen Relationship Violence.

3 10 Startling Statistics about Children of Domestic Violence. Childhood Domestic Violence Association.

4 Gory, Rory. How to Stop Teen Dating Violence. Teen Vogue. 

By AWARE® Teen Advisory Board Members - Will Cohen, Hadas Dubrawsky, Ellie Schwartz & Jacob Udler

February is Teen Dating Violence (TDV) Awareness Month! Most people may be focused on Valentine’s Day, but AWARE® is excited that every day in February can be dedicated to empowering young people to build healthy relationships. According to the CDC, nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year. Rooted in power and control, TDV is a pattern of behavior where a person seeks to gain and maintain power and control over their dating partner. TDV can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, age, financial status, or sexual orientation and includes physical, emotional, technological, financial, and sexual abuse. It also can have both short- and long-term negative impacts on young people including lower grades in school, substance and alcohol abuse, higher risk of suicide, and experiencing abuse in future relationships.

To help us all raise awareness about teen dating violence, the AWARE® Teen Advisory Board created a #TDVAM social media toolkit. With fast facts, hashtags, and healthy relationship celebration opportunities, you can stay informed and share these important messages with your own network.

 

Fast Facts

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
  • 1 in 3 adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
  • 30% of all teens report worrying about their personal physical safety in a relationship.
  • 1 in 6 college women has been sexually abused in a dating relationship.
  • Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide.
  • 29% have been pressured to have sex or engage insexual activity when they did not want to.

 

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (#TDVAM) Hashtags

  • #TDVAM2018
  • #TeenDVMonth
  • #itsnotlove
  • #loveisrespect
  • #Orange4Love
  • #HealthyRelationships

 

Healthy Relationship Celebrations

  • Respect Week is February 12-16th! Hosted by Loveisrespect.org, this year’s theme is Hands Unite: Do Your Part. Check out their Respect Week Guide for more ideas on how to get involved to raise awareness in your local community.
  • February 13th is #Orange4Love Day! Wear orange to show your support for healthy teen relationships.

 

Don’t forget to follow AWARE® on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for our daily #TDVAM posts!

 

By AWARE® Teen Advisory Board Members - Laura Espinoza, Melissa Marks & Emma Thoms

January is National Stalking Awareness Month. Though not as frequently discussed as other types of domestic and dating violence, stalking is one of the most prevalent and easily facilitated in today’s digital age. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the U.S. have been stalked. Stalking is a crime under the laws of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Territories, and the Federal government. Legal definitions of stalking vary by jurisdiction. However, it can generally be defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

People often assume that stories of stalking are like those portrayed in movies, where a stranger you smiled at in Starbucks down the street becomes obsessed and starts following you around, but that's not as common as one may think. Of the millions of men and women that experienced stalking in the U.S., “60.8% of women and 43.5% of men report[ed] being stalked by a current or former partner” and nearly 3 out of 4 victims knew their stalker in some capacity.  Since stalking is typically perpetrated by an intimate partner, victims are more likely to see an escalation in the behavior of the perpetrator which often leads to other violent acts. It is reported that weapons are used to harm or threaten victims in 1 out of 5 cases of stalking.

Studies also show that over 60% of stalkers pursue victims at least once a week, and many times, daily--using more than one method. The digital age has brought scary new wave of stalking facilitated by apps most teens use daily, including Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Location features on social media apps allow us to update our friends on where we are,but also provides that same information to people who may not have your best interest in mind. Even without a specific location tagged, photos and status updates make it easier for a stalker to piece together someone’s routine and keep tabs on them, potentially putting them and their friends in danger.

Here are some examples of stalking behaviors:

  • Follow you and show up where you are uninvited.
  • Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails.
  • Damage your home, car, or other property.
  •  Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
  • Use social media or technology, like hidden cameras or GPS, to track where you go.
  • Drive by or hang out around your home, school,or work.
  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, orpets.
  • Post information or spread rumors about you on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
  • Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.

If you believe that you are being stalked, here are some steps you can take to increase your safety:

  • Trust your instincts. Don’t downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
  • Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder.
  • Develop a safety plan. Consider changing your routine, arranging somewhere else to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you
  • Don’t communicate with the stalker or respond to attempts to contact you.
  • Keep evidence of the stalking. When the stalker follows you or contacts you, write down the time, date, and place. Keep e-mails, phone messages, letters, or notes. Photograph anything of yours the stalker damages and any injuries the stalker causes. Ask witnesses to write down what they saw.
  • Tell family, friends, roommates, and co-workers about the stalking and seek their support. Tell security staff at your job or school. Ask them to help watch out for your safety.
  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more information on stalking, visit the Stalking Resource Center.  If you are concerned that you or a loved one is a victim of stalking, contact the stalking hotline: 1-855-4-VICTIM (855-484-2846).

Sources: 

Stalking Fact Sheet. National Center for Victims of Crime: Stalking Resource Center.

Facts about Domestic Violence and Stalking. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

AWARE® is dedicated to empowering teens and young adults with the skills and information they need to build healthy relationships.
Email: aware@awarenow.org • Office: 301.315.8040 • Confidential Helpline: 877.885.2232