By Doreen Jones

ENDGBV VOICES COMMITTEE 

February 2022 Submission: Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month 

By Doreen Jones, ENDGBV VOICES Committee Chairperson 

Intimate partner violence, or dating violence, affects individuals regardless of their age, but teenagers are particularly vulnerable. Teen dating violence is the physical, sexual, or psychological and emotional abuse within a dating relationship among adolescents. Teenagers who are disconnected from social supports such as school, family, and work are at particular risk of domestic violence. This is a serious problem in the U.S., affecting approximately10% of all teenagersbetween the ages of 12 to 18. Teen dating violence includes stalking, harassment, physical or sexual abuse. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), teen dating violence has both serious short-term and long-term consequences. Some advocates suspect teen dating violence has increased during the pandemic. With the growing use of technology and social media among teens, there’s an emerging kind of abuse that’s becoming more common among teenagers: digital abuse, which can include controlling passwords, demanding to see text messages, the exploitation of sexual images and location tracking. 

More than twenty-five percent of women and fourteen percent of men first experience intimate partner violence before the age of 18, according to the CDC. Teenaged victims of domestic violence experience at least the same level of domestic violence as adult victims, and they are at risk of serious harm or death. Most teenaged victims experience abuse perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner. 

 So many homicides among teenagers are related to dating violence.  

*Amelia Claypool 19 yrs. old of Nevada was shot and killed by her boyfriend. 

* Tiana Baker, 19 yrs. old of Minnesota was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend. 

*Diamond Alvarez, 16 yrs. old of Texas was fatally shot 22 times by her ex-boyfriend. 

*Lauren Astley, 18 yrs. old of Massachusetts was found with her throat cut and a bungee cord wrapped around her neck. Her ex-boyfriend was charged with her murder. 

My own personal brush with teen dating violence involved someone I dated at the age of sixteen. He went from being sweet and generous, to one day while having a minor disagreement he slapped me across the face. That was the last time that I saw him. But I remember thinking why? Why did he think that he could do that to me? 

It’s not always immediately clear when teen dating violence is happening. However, there are certain warning signs. 

Potential signs of teen dating violence include: 

  • Excessive anger and jealousy
  • Insecurity 
  • Pressure to engage in unwanted sexual activity 
  • Controlling behaviors 
  • Verbal bullying 
  • One partner constantly monitoring the whereabouts of another 

In the home, parents can simply explain to their teens what types of behaviors they should not accept or commit in relationships. 

The ENDGBV VOICES Committee is a survivor-led group that serves as a voice of hope and change. We share our stories and experiences to raise awareness of intimate partner violence and its impacts, conduct outreach to affected communities, and make recommendations for improved systemic responses, as we work towards a future in which all New Yorkers, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, or immigration status, feel supported in pursuing lives free from abuse. You can reach out to the VOICES Committee at voices@endgbv.nyc.gov with questions.  

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic and gender-based violence, we are here for you, and you are never alone. Help is available by calling 311 to find a Family Justice Center in your borough. Family Justice Centers can assist with safety planning, applying for public benefits, mental health services and legal help for orders of protection, divorce, and immigration. You can also call the 24-Hour NYC Domestic Violence hotline at   1-800-621-HOPE, NYC’s Crime Victims Hotline: 1-866-689-HELP, or the National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-373-7888. Other resources and support can be accessed by searching the City’s HOPE Resource Directory online at www.nyc.gov/NYCHOPE 

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