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Teen dating violence prevention takes awareness

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month. It is critical we take time to understand how domestic violence can affect teens and young adults. Most teens will develop non-violent relationships; however, did you know:

One in three adolescents in the US will be a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner.

Nearly 80 percent of teens who have been abused in their relationship continue to date the abuser and two-thirds never tell anyone about the abuse.

In a national online survey, one in five adolescents, ages 11 to 14, say their friends are victims of dating violence and nearly half who are in relationships know friends who are verbally abused.

Two in five of the youngest adolescents, ages 11 and 12, report their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships.

Dating violence is a type of intimate partner violence. It occurs between two people in a close relationship. The nature of dating violence can be physical, emotional, or sexual.

With the easy access of current technology, power and control can seep into relationships without even noticing it. Teens are reporting incidents of "digital abuse," such as receiving threats via text message or being stalked on social media outlets. Regular monitoring, as well as demands for instant responses, extend an abuser's influence and control of the victim.

While adolescents experience similar types of abuse as adults, often the methods are unique to the adolescent culture.

The phenomenon known as "sexting" among teenagers can quickly turn into a coercive tool or gateway to other problematic patterns in a relationship. Parents can and should educate themselves and their teenagers on warning signs of abuse or control in their relationships. Parents can make the difference with helping their teenagers make responsible choices.

If you or a loved one is in a violent, controlling relationship or if you need more information, call the Family Advocacy Program at 883-8616. Restricted reporting is available.

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