Experts offer tips on recognizing teen dating violence

Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 5:36 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - It may not leave physical scars, but dating violence can have long-lasting, devastating effects, especially for teens and young adults learning how to date.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

The latest CDC data indicate nearly 1 in 11 females and 1 in 14 males in high school experienced physical dating violence in the last year.

Megan Alpine manages the Teen Outreach Program for Family Service of Roanoke Valley and says many forms of dating abuse have gone digital.

Text messages and phone calls, one right after the other, can be signs of stalking and emotional abuse.

“If a person is trying to get their partner’s password for their phone and things like, they can go in and look at their social media and kind of control them in that way,” explains Alpine, who also details how what people see on apps like Instagram and Facebook may not be accurate portrayals of relationships. “It puts a lot of pressure to have things look a certain way. It opens up relationships to everybody. Their opinions, what it looks like to other people.”

Some indications of potential dating abuse include changes in appearance or lack of interest in their passions, isolation, belittling, and extreme jealousy or insecurity.

“As a teen in a first relationship, it can potentially set themselves up for behavior patterns that will be repeated,” says Alpine. “One then starts to think, ‘Oh, this is what love looks like.’”

The Teen Outreach Program focuses on consent and boundaries, emphasizing how everyone’s personal values should be respected. Providing a safe space to learn about romantic partnerships and friendships.

“Especially for parents with their teens, to just be checking in and reminding them you are a nonjudgmental person they can turn to and just listen if they want to talk to you,” adds Alpine.

For more information from Family Service of Roanoke, click here.

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