February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM) is a national campaign that promotes awareness and prevention efforts about abuse in teen and 20-something dating relationships. Defined as physical, sexual or emotional violence within a romantic relationship, dating violence encompasses stalking, relationship and dating abuse, intimate partner violence and domestic abuse and violence.

Know the facts. DOsomething.org reports that:

  • Every year, approximately 1.5 million high school boys and girls in the U.S. admit to being intentionally hit or physically harmed by someone with whom they are romantically involved.
  • Teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide and violent behavior.
  • 33% of adolescents in America fall victim to sexual, physical, verbal or emotional dating abuse.
  • 72% of 13- and 14-year-olds are “dating.”
  • Violent behavior often begins between sixth and twelfth grade.
  • 50% of young people who experience rape or physical or sexual abuse will attempt to commit suicide.


It may seem obvious when you see unhealthy and harmful behavior from the outside, but people wrapped up in a relationship often don’t realize when their partner‘s behavior is inappropriate or abusive. Are you, or someone you know, in an abusive or violent relationship but missing the signs? Here are some indications you, or someone, is caught up in a violent or unhealthy relationship:

  • Verbally abusive – your partner constantly puts you down or exhibits derisive behavior or angry outbursts toward you.
  • Isolation – your partner discourages or forbids you from spending time with friends and family; this may occur slowly over time.
  • Instills fear in you – whether by physical violence or psychological influence, you feel afraid of your partner or you fear your partner always makes you feel inadequate and unvalued.
  • Jealousy – your partner is jealous of your friends and family or jealous of your personal abilities and aspirations. This is a red flag you should take seriously.
  • Controlling – your partner manipulates your every move and decision. He or she will sulk, threaten to leave and emotionally or physically punish you for not doing what they want you to do.
  • Violence – it can start subtly. A grab on the arm during an argument or a seemingly random angry outburst. Violence tends to escalate; what starts with a small push or demeaning insult can likely develop into yelling inches from your face, slapping or punching and kicking. If your partner is getting physically assaultive with you—no matter the circumstances—it is unacceptable.


Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. Love has many definitions; abuse is not one of them. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or has a question about a relationship, healthy or unhealthy, help is out there. Visit loveisrespect.org or text “loveis” to 22522.

Fairfax County offers assistance through the following offices:

  • Fairfax County Police Victim Services Section at 703-246-2141
  • Fairfax County Office for Women and Domestic and Sexual Violence Services 24-hour hotline at 703-360-7273

Additional informative resources:

Break the cycle

Domestic Violence Awareness Project

Family & Youth Services Bureau

The National Domestic Violence Hotline