(ATLANTIC) February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month.
Statistics show that abusive relationships don’t always start later in life, in fact the ages in which violent relationships begin are getting younger and younger. From the early teen years up to college age, one in three females will suffer from verbal, emotional or physical abuse from someone they are dating and one in ten males are abused.
Wendy Richter, Director of Family Crisis Support Network, says it is important for teens to recognize the red flags that they may be in an abusive relationship. One of those red flags is controlling.
“By controlling, that could be something as simple as a boyfriend or girlfriend telling their partner ‘Hey, why don’t you wear a certain clothing item or don’t wear this or don’t wear that’ and making it sound like they’re just trying to be helpful when in reality what they’re doing is they’re trying to control what he or she is wearing,” explained Richter.
She said in the information and technology age they see a lot of abusive relationships that are turning to those tactics.
“Using cell phones, constantly calling someone, constantly texting and then being upset when the other partner isn’t replying,” said Richter. “Facebook is another thing, doing things on Facebook, maybe putting something out there that may potentially sabotage relationships with family members or other friends.”
Richter said they not only want teens to know that it’s important to have a healthy relationship, but it is also important that parents recognize there may be some hidden dangers in their teen’s relationship. She said it is best to be supportive and understand that you cannot control who your children are dating.
“What you can do is walk with them along the way and tell them that you understand what they’re going through, remind them all the time, don’t cut them off,” explained Richter. “You want to be supportive, but you also want to be firm and let them know that this isn’t right, this isn’t fair, you don’t deserve it.”
If you are in an unhealthy relationship, or know somebody who is, and need to seek help you can contact the Family Crisis Support Network at 712-243-6615.