The Close of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Mar 01, 2024 | 0 Comments

Whether due to a breakup or simply an unrequited crush, having one's heart broken is something of a milestone for teenagers. Although most of us remember our earliest relationships and the circumstances that led to their conclusion, with hindsight, we find they haven't made nearly as much impact on our lives as we thought at the time.  

What truly is devastating and debilitating, however, is physical abuse—aka Teen Dating Violence (TDV). 

If your teenager or college-age child has been subjected to dating violence, contact the Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm for help. Call them at 888.535.3686 or send a message by clicking here.   

What Is Teen Dating Violence? 

In large part, teen dating violence is similar to the intimate partner violence (IPV) experienced by adults. Some of the red flags of an unhealthy or even dangerous relationship include:  

  • Controlling and stalking behavior 
  • Extreme jealousy 
  • “Love bombing,” or showering the person with gifts, grand gestures, and discussion of marriage 
  • Using social media to track the person, or demanding that they share account passwords 
  • Unpredictable moods, like sudden explosions of anger 
  • Verbal abuse and demeaning language 
  • Controlling the victim's personal appearance, including their clothing, hair, and makeup choices 

The Grim Statistics 

This issue is more prevalent than you might think. In 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed high school students to find out about TDV. Their findings? About one in every 12 young people had experienced physical dating violence, with similar statistics reported for sexual dating violence in the previous year. 

Students who identified as LGBTQ+ or who were grappling with gender-related issues were at an even higher risk for violent or sexual abuse in dating relationships. 

Taking all teenagers into account (not just those in high school), the figure jumps alarmingly high: one out of every three teens will experience dating abuse before they reach adulthood. 

What Distinguishes Teen Dating Violence From Abusive Adult Relationships?  

Teenagers are, by definition, inexperienced when it comes to matters of the heart. They don't have much experience to draw on, and what little they do have comes from observing others' relationships—often, their parents. Without a benchmark of any sort, teens might believe that abusive treatment isn't a big deal or even that it's par for the course, part of the price to be paid for love. 

It's important to remember that dating violence can take subtle, even stealthy forms—your teenager might not have visible bruises or other injuries. Even behaviors as seemingly innocuous as teasing, name-calling, or unannounced visits to “surprise” the victim can be signs of nascent violent behaviors that may escalate. They could also be just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, with more egregious behavior hiding under the surface. 

The trauma of TDV has a terrible ripple effect. People who experience violent relationships in their teenage years are much likelier to be victimized in college. Additionally, they have a higher incidence of unhealthy behaviors—drinking to excess, smoking, drug use, petty crime, lying, and bullying. Depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation are also common consequences that can last well into adulthood. 

How You Can Help Your Teenager 

February is recognized as Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. As the month winds down and throughout the year, talk to your teenager about the importance of mutual respect in relationships and about what healthy dating looks like.  

If your child has already been victimized by a dating partner, take steps to address the dangerous situation before it escalates any further. The Family Law Team at the Lento Law Firm can help. Call 888.535.3686 or click here

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a veteran of one of the nation's busiest family courts with nearly 20 years' experience passionately helping families. By day, he worked in the trenches of family court, and at night, he studied the law. He helped countless families while working at family court, and he went on to become an attorney, dedicating his law practice to continuing the work he started years earlier. Mr. Lento's experience both behind the scenes and on the front lines allows him to understand a client's family law matter from all angles, and allows him to find and employ the most effective strategies to get favorable outcomes for any client. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in New Jersey and New York, and is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide. In the courtroom and in life, attorney Joseph D. Lento stands up when the bell rings! He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and protects their interests.


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