February is dedicated to bringing awareness and prevention to teen dating violence. Dating violence is any type of abuse in a dating relationship, and it’s a serious and prevalent issue in the United States. Teen dating violence affects nearly 10% of all teenagers throughout the U.S and is detrimental to mental health.

There doesn’t have to be visible injury or bruises for a relationship to be considered abusive. Dating violence can many forms, including sexual abuse and verbal and emotional abuse.

Know the signs of teen dating violence

Each relationship is different, and dating violence doesn’t always look the same, but there are several warning signs of abuse. However, unlike physical abuse, which leaves noticeable marks, the other signs can be a little harder to spot- many times because the abuse goes on behind closed doors.

Some of the biggest red flags are:

  • A partner isolating the other from friends and family

  • A partner who restricts access to money or financial resources

  • A partner who routinely insults the other or makes them feel bad about themselves

  • Playing manipulative mind games such as gaslighting

Digital dating abuse has become an issue with the rise of smartphones and device usage. It involves using technology to harass, intimidate, control, coerce, or annoy a partner. Teenagers are often a prime target for this type of abuse because of their high usage of social media platforms and digital communication such as text and instant messaging.

A recent study revealed that boys were more likely to have experienced digital dating abuse than girls by a difference of about 10 percent. It has also been found that approximately one-third of teens involved in a dating relationship have experienced digital dating abuse.

Digital dating abuse includes:

  • Going through a partner’s cell phone without permission

  • Threatening a partner via text

  • Posting things on the internet to embarrass or make fun of a partner

  • Sharing private photos on the internet without permission

Mental health effect of teen dating violence

Abusive relationships can affect just about every aspect of a teenager’s life.

Unhealthy relationships during the teenage years can wreak havoc on emotional development and contribute to other long-term mental health effects. Teens who are in abusive relationships are more likely to turn to alcohol or drugs, engage in antisocial behavior, experience anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. These symptoms can continue into adulthood and affect future relationships. Teens who experience dating violence in high school are more likely to be revictimized in college and later on in life.

People in abusive relationships are often afraid to speak up for many reasons- a big one is fear of retaliation. With teenagers, there is also the fear of social isolation and shame. Knowing the signs is essential, and if you suspect someone is the victim of teen dating violence, don’t be afraid to speak up. A conversation may change and or save a life.

If you or someone you know has experienced teen dating violence and needs mental health services, call Serene Health at 844-737-3638 or visit www.serenehealth.com to book an appointment. We offer individual, and family therapy and have late evening and weekend appointments available through our Telehealth platform so you can speak to a therapist from the location of your choice.