When Love Hurts

Ahhh! February, the month of chocolates, romance, flowers, cupid’s arrows and lovers. Unfortunately, there is a darker side to February. The week of February 4-8th is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week.

Violence and Teen Dating is a silent epidemic growing larger and more dangerous every year in this country. Dating violence is defined as controlling, abusive and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. It includes verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or a combination.

The statistics are staggering:

  • Half of the reported date rapes occur among teenagers.
  • One in five teens in a serious relationship reports having been hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.
  • 58% of rape victims report being raped between the ages of 12-24.
  • 50-80% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive in a dating relationship.
  • Young women, ages 16-24 years, experience the highest rates of relationship violence.

    If we do not engage our young people in discussions of what healthy relationships look like, than our future demographic consists of increased rape victims, domestic abuse victims, and substance abuse victims. Unfortunately, the research tells us that ”violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications for victims: many will continue to be abused in their adult relationships and are at a higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, and suicide.”

    What is even more astounding is that when female high school students were asked whom they would talk to if someone they date is attempting to control them, insults them, or physically harms them, 86% said they would confide in a friend, while only 7% said they would talk to the police.

    And the reality for parents is that

  • 81% of parents surveyed either believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue; and
  • A majority of parents (54%) admit they’ve not spoken to their child(ren) about dating violence.

    So what can we as parents and caretakers of our youth do? The self defense answer is to educate our young people as to what is a healthy and unhealthy relationship. Have the conversation with our daughters to ensure that they understand the definition of abuse. Not once, but on a regular basis.

    I would encourage you to visit our Crime & Defense Site and have your child take the quiz, Are You a Victim of Teen Dating Violence? Discuss with them the signs of dating violence. You can find more information at our Teen Dating Violence Section and our Resources for Victims of Teen Dating Violence.

    There are great organizations out there prepared to help. Take the first step by speaking with your Teen and providing them with the resources to effectively say “NO, love will not hurt!”


    **Angie M. Tarighi is the CEO/Founder of Women's Self-Defense Institute and EasySafety4U.com providing self defense training, education awareness & personal protection products empowering women to fight back against crime.