Recognizing and Responding to Teen Dating Violence Toolkit
James Cameron is quoted as saying, “Hope is not a strategy. Luck is not a factor. Fear is not an option.” Recognizing and responding to teen dating violence requires an awareness of the prevalence of dating violence, indicators of abuse in relationships, and what steps to take if someone is experiencing dating violence.
Dating violence is prevalent. But the good news is that recognizing warning signs of dating violence behavior helps us to understand when we, or those we love and care about, are experiencing it. The only person who is responsible for abusive behavior is the person exhibiting abusive behavior. However, it is important to get out of abusive relationships when there are warning signs of abusive behaviors, as it will likely get worse, and the relationship will become increasingly difficult to leave.
If someone we care about is in an abusive relationship, although it is difficult, we recognize that they need to make their own decisions. They may not be ready to end the relationship, and they may be making a decision that is safest for them in that moment. By listening and not judging them, we are letting them know they aren’t alone. When they are ready, they will come to us for resources because we have been a good support system for them. School staff have the responsibility to intervene when witnessing dating violence among students, and to know and follow their district’s dating violence policy.
If we recognize that we are abusive towards those we care about, or we are involved in unhealthy relationships, then we must know the importance of asking for and receiving help. There are people who care, who know how to help, and who won’t judge us. The author Brené Brown says, “We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.” Even though we may feel like we are the only ones who are going through something, the truth is that we aren’t. Help is available.