February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), a time when organizations like Family Sunshine Center focus on the importance of educating teens on how to recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship.
Dating can and should be an exciting part of growing up. It’s natural to have disagreements and arguments in a relationship. It’s important to know if any bad experiences with your partner are just normal issues, or if they are signs of something not okay.
A healthy relationship means both people feel respected and taken care of. Things like trust, truthfulness, respect, and working together are all important. Even in a great relationship, there may be disagreements, but the conversations are respectful and without judgment. And lastly, it’s fun! It feels good to be around someone who cares for us and respects us, and that can make us feel better about ourselves and the world. Even though it’s not always fun, the good times should be more than the bad.
On the other end of the dating spectrum are abusive relationships. These relationships are about power and control where one person makes all the decisions – about friends, family, boundaries, even what’s true and what’s not. It can involve threats, manipulation, and isolation. Even if the abuse isn’t physical, like name-calling and insults, it’s still wrong. No relationship should ever involve violence or abuse.
Unhealthy relationships also involve trying to control the other person, resulting in lots of drama. Have you ever heard someone’s relationship described as “all drama”? In unhealthy relationships, one person may use the “silent treatment’, lie, pressure their partner, say rude or mean things about their partner, or constantly threaten to break up with their partner.
During TDVAM, we are running a series of posts on TikTok where we go through different dating scenarios and discuss if the relationships are healthy, unhealthy, or abusive. Make sure to like and follow us on TikTok @familysunshinecenter.
Being able to identify healthy, unhealthy, or abusive behaviors is an important part of dating and creating long lasting relationships. If you feel scared or unsafe in your relationship, it’s important to tell an adult you trust. It’s also important to talk to your friends and family. They can help you get out of a bad situation.
There are also hotlines and websites you can go to for help.
Love is Respect.org has a lot of resources, information and support for young adults who have questions or concerns about their romantic relationships. If you have questions or concerns you can talk to someone through their live chat, via text, or by phone.
That’sNotCool.com is part of a national public education campaign that uses digital examples of controlling, pressuring, and threatening behavior to raise awareness about and prevent teen dating abuse.
Joinonelove.org breaks down the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships and has produced some really cool videos and other resources.
Dating should never be scary or dangerous. If you feel like you are in an abusive or unsafe relationship, Family Sunshine Center can help. Give us a call at 334-263-0218 24/7/365. All calls are free and confidential.