A blog post informing of commonly asked questions and S+SS programs for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), a month dedicated to raising awareness about dating abuse, healthy relationships, and available services. In recognition of TDVAM, Safe+Sound Somerset is encouraging everyone to Talk About It!
Teen dating violence is common: 1 in 3 teens will experience dating violence before high school graduation. It’s also serious – teen dating violence victimization is associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety, difficulties in school, and future abusive relationships. Teen dating violence impacts teens regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, or income level.
Even though teen dating violence is widespread, many teens do not have the information they need to recognize and respond to dating violence. In a recent survey, we found that only half of those who responded said they knew the warning signs of dating violence, and over 25% said that they did not know how to get help if they or someone they knew was experiencing dating violence.
Teens are also navigating conflicting messages about relationships, dating, and sex from many different places, including friends, social media, tv shows, movies, music and more. In workshops with Somerset County teens, youth show us time and time again that they have so many questions – and they desperately want to Talk About It!
Some of the questions we hear repeatedly from teens include:
- What do you do if someone keeps asking you out and you keep on saying no?
- What’s the difference between typical relationship conflict and abuse?
- Is gaslighting abusive? What about the “silent treatment?”
- What if someone tries to manipulate me by constantly threatening to break up?
- If someone says yes after being pressured, is it still consensual?
Through our Community Outreach and Prevention programs, Safe+Sound Somerset works to educate and provide teen with the tools to think critically about these messages, build healthy relationships, and access our free dating violence and sexual assault services if needed. During TDVAM, and throughout the year, we invite adults with teens in their lives – parents, teachers, coaches, and more – to join in our programming to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to Talk About It! with teens.
Upcoming TDVAM Programs
Ask Ava Anything
We will be answering some of the questions above and others in our upcoming Ask Ava Anything social media campaign on Tuesday, February 22nd. For the entire day, teens, parents, and others will have the opportunity to ask and get answers about teen dating violence, sexual violence and consent on Safe+Sound Somerset’s Instagram and Facebook stories pages. Follow us on IG and FB @safesoundsomerset to ask your questions and watch for Ava’s answers. Questions can also be sent in advance by tagging us with the hashtag #askava.
For immediate concerns, or if a student has been impacted by dating violence or sexual assault, they can call and text our confidential helpline 24/7 at 866-685-1122.
Live At Lunch: Teen Dating Violence – Talk About It!
Join us on February 17 at 12:00PM on Facebook @safesoundsomerset for a 20-minute conversation with Ella Blank, college freshmen and volunteer, and Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach & Prevention Manager, as they provide guidance for talking with young people about dating violence, sexual assault, and consent.
Relating About Dating: Talking to Teens About Healthy Relationships and Consent
Click here to register for our webinar on February 23 , 11am-12pm. This interactive presentation will:
- Discuss what a healthy, consensual teen relationship looks like;
- Identify the warning signs for dating abuse;
- Define sexual assault;
- Explore ways to talk with teens about common unhealthy or abusive behaviors; and
- Review tools and resources if a teen or their friend needs help.
If you are uncertain about how to get the conversation started, read this article detailing a few helpful language and conversation prompts.
Visit our Ask Ava to listen to our short podcasts in which our expert staff answer questions from Somerset County teens.
Only about 33% of teen survivors ever disclose dating abuse to anyone, with most teens preferring to speak to their friends instead of parents . By Talking About It!, we can create a space for teens that allows them explore the issue of dating violence and safely come forward to access supportive services.
Safe+Sound Somerset provides free and confidential services for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault. Anyone with questions or needing help can call or text our 24/7 confidential helpline at 866-685-1122. Additional information and resources can be found online at www.safe-sound.org
 Haynie, D.L. et al. (2013). Dating Violence Perpetration and Victimization among US Adolescents: Prevalence, Patterns, and Associations with Health Complaints and Substance Use. Journal of Adolescent Health 53(2), 194-201
 Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Teen Research Unlimited, (May 2009). “Troubled Economy Linked to High Levels of Teen Dating Violence & Abuse Survey 2009”