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With all of the excitement that teenage relationships inspire, it can be easy to forget the sobering fact that one in three teens in the United States will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse at the hands of an intimate partner.  In response to this staggering statistic, various organizations nationwide designate February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM).  Throughout February, organizations such as Break the Cycle, Loveisrespect and Futures Without Violence work to distribute information, educate teens regarding the practices of healthy relationships, and support victims of intimate partner violence.  TDVAM exists to connect with people and start discussions about what healthy relationships constitute.  

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The theme for TDVAM 2016 was 'Love = Setting Boundaries,' which emphasizes the importance of boundaries in any healthy relationship.  To further explore the topic, Loveisrespect and That’s Not Cool hosted Twitter chats to provide information and answer questions online. Additionally, Break the Cycle and Loveisrespect hosted a webinar on February 25 that focused on dating and dating abuse in the context of the culture of today’s youth.

Though TDVAM peaked from February 8 through 12, which is Respect Week, Loveisrespect uses the entire month of February to educate communities and protect victims.  Each year, Loveisrespect issues a Respect Week Guide.  The Guide is filled with information regarding dating violence, and most importantly provides students with a multitude of activities to raise awareness about dating violence and to bring communities closer together to prevent further victimization as well as to provide extensive support for victims.

It can be easy to forget that 1 in 3 teens in the US experience abuse at the hands of a partner.

Loveisrespect brainstorms ideas for both high school and college age students.  For college students, Loveisrespect suggests that communities take a pledge that commits them, personally, to upholding nonviolence in their relationships.  Additionally, involvement varies from resident assistants all the way to sports teams.  As college students are older and more likely to be experienced in relationships, activities focus on personal commitment as well as on issues such as consent. For high schoolers, who may be less familiar with relationships in general as well as dating violence, Loveisrespect focuses on ideas to raise knowledge and awareness about dating violence.  The Guide leads students through creating awareness displays, information tables and even hosting pep rallies.

The Loveisrespect website partners with a variety of organizations to provide people of all ages support and information year round.  Break the Cycle, another key leader in the fight against dating violence, also works to prevent dating abuse. Loveisrespect also partners with the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is available 24/7 to assist any person who find themselves confronting dating violence. This resource is available for people of all ages.  Loveisrespect, itself, provides a similar service in an online instant messaging format.

I encourage those who are interested in joining the movement, or feel as though they may benefit from the variety of services publicized through TDVAM, to visit loveisrespect.org for more information.  No matter the time of year, it's always important to raise awareness and work to end teen dating violence. 

 

 

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