Amid Mardis Gras celebrations and Valentine’s Day festivities, February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. It is aimed at not only raising awareness about teen dating violence, but also about dating violence in 20-something relationships.
The statistics for college-aged students are scary:
- Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, which is almost three times the national average.
- 70% of dating abuse victims between ages 20-24 were victimized by a current or former partner.
- 43% of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.
- 57% of college students say dating violence is difficult to identify and 58% say they do not know how to help someone who is in an abusive relationship
Social media has given dating violence a new platform; now perpetrators can use sites such as Facebook and twitter to target their victims. According to www.teendvmonth.org (which is a great resource for information about teen dating violence and how to report it), digital abuse is now listed as a type of dating violence, alongside physical, verbal/emotional, and sexual abuse. Digital abuse includes using technology such as texting as well as social media sites to harass partners. The perpetrator may demand access to passwords for the ability to monitor these sites and devices.
One of my favorite awareness ads about digital abuse is still one that I saw on television when I was in high school: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2gIEqW-lL8 Looking back, it is concerning that these ads, while very affective, always just seemed to focus on male-female relationships in which the female was the victim. That’s why I was happy to find a relationship between two young women being portrayed as digitally abusive on www.thatsnotcool.com ‘s home page. I think one of the most common misconceptions of dating violence is that it only occurs in male-female relationships and that the female is always the victim. This is not the case. It can occur in any type of relationship, and males can be (and are) victims.
I’m glad that digital abuse is being discussed more and more. Things have changed a lot since I was in middle and high school; I didn’t even have access to texting until my senior year, so digital abuse wasn’t a huge concern. However, as children begin creating Facebook pages at younger ages, digital abuse amongst teenagers is becoming more of an issue. And with memes such as this prevalent on the Internet, I think the need for education on digital abuse is great: http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/1hqe/
This post has been written by
Lindsey Spanner, Student Outreach Coordinator