Teen dating violence, unfortunately, is more common than we think. It is easy for adults to write teenage relationships off as “childish” or “fleeting,” but the relationships a teenager has will inevitably affect the relationships they will have for the rest of their lives. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, one in three teens experiences abuse in a dating relationship. Yes, you read that right: one in three teens experiences dating abuse. There are even more shocking statistics about teen dating abuse, including that one in ten teenagers in New York City schools reports experiencing physical or sexual violence in a dating relationship within the past year.
If THAT many teens are experiencing intimate partner violence, then that same amount of teens will grow up remembering, and perhaps reliving, the abuse they suffered when they were younger. Dating is incredibly exciting for teens, because they feel a sense of independence and maturity. Unfortunately, however, that need for independence can lead a teenager to be in a relationship with a controlling, abusive partner…and nowhere else to turn. What these young victims need to know is that the violence against them is not their fault, regardless of what their partner says. And, while it may seem scary, the law can help young victims of teen dating abuse just as it can help married persons who suffer from domestic violence.
Teaching the types of behavior that constitute teen dating violence would be a first step toward helping teens form healthy relationships. Things that may seem normal or “endearing” are, in fact, types of dating abuse. For instance, if a boyfriend gets mad that his girlfriend is wearing clothing that is too revealing, and calls her names because of it, that would qualify as an instance of dating abuse. Similarly, a girlfriend isolating her boyfriend from his friends, forbidding him to see them because she “loves him so much and can’t go a second without him” would be an instance of dating abuse. In order to obtain an Order of Protection, instances such as these should be included along with physical violence as examples of a “past history” of dating abuse. The more details and information the victim is able to include on an application for an Order of Protection, the better the victim’s chances are at getting permanent protection from their abusive partner.
An incredible organization, called Day One, offers help for New York City victims of dating violence under the age of 24 years old. Most organizations seeking to help victims from intimate partner abuse focus on issues of domestic violence affecting people who are no longer teenagers. Teens might feel out of place getting help from a domestic violence agency, but Day One offers them a place to turn, where everyone is suffering in the same way. Not only does Day One offer counseling, but it also offers accompaniment to file a criminal report, and even assistance to obtain an Order of Protection.
If you or someone you know is a teen in an abusive relationship, you do not have to suffer alone. There is help for you. Start again with Day One.