Help prevent teen dating violence

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — February is nationally recognized as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month — a time when people around the nation participate in activities that promote education and awareness about teen dating abuse.

According to the Mental Health and Recovery Board based in St. Clairsville, this is a crucial time to talk openly about healthy and unhealthy relationships, warning signs and what we can do to lessen the frequency of dating abuse. Teen relationship violence is more common than many people think:

∫ 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner;

∫ 1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner; and

∫ In a study of LGBT youths, teens in same-sex relationships are just as likely to experience dating violence as youths involved in opposite sex dating.

Dating violence can take many forms. Physical assaults — either a slap, being hit, being beaten or being raped — are easier for us to put in the category of violence by a dating partner. Stalking, either in person or on the internet, is also dating violence, as is controlling behavior often represented by harassing and threatening texts and online communications.

Unfortunately, many teens involved in abusive dating relationships or their friends do not know how to get help for themselves or someone else. Ending and preventing violent relationships will improve the lives of young women and men as they enter adulthood by helping them recognize what it means to be in a healthy, loving relationship.

If you are worried about your teen, call local community provider Tri-County Help Center Inc. at 740-695-5441 or its crisis line at 800-695-1639 to develop a personalized safety plan based on the details of the abuse and all aspects of your life. Or call the National Teen Abuse Helpline at 866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522.

Throughout Ohio, individuals can text the keyword “4hope” to 741741 to be connected to a Crisis Counselor.

Additional resources can be found at www.bhmboard.org.

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