Parenting 101

What are the effects of teen dating violence?


Note

Today, I am very happy to share with you, dear readers, a guest post by author Jennifer Woodson about the dangerous effects of teen dating violence. As parents, we cannot help but worry about the scary world our children are growing up in and how best to equip them to deal with the real-world challenges as they become progressively independent. I would like to think that this is a “far away” worry for me considering our son is barely five. But simply by virtue of being a parent, my mom-brain is hardwired to think about his future – the kind of partner he would have, the kind of rebellions his teen years would bring, his education, his life goals, his overall happiness and so on. So, yes, for parents like me and for parents of tweens and teens out there, this post is an attempt at spreading awareness and knowledge, so that when the time comes and your little one brings home his/her first girl/boyfriend, you, dear parents, are equipped to discern a good positive relationship from a bad one. Read on and don’t forget to share your views in the comments section below.

About Post Author

Jennifer Woodson enjoys serving the public as a writer for PublicHealthCorps.org. The site is dedicated to putting the public back into health by serving as a hub of reputable and useful information on health topics.

Introduction

The teenage years are supposed to be a time for exploring and experiencing love for the first time. Unfortunately, teen dating violence is a real threat to youngsters today. One in ten teens reported being hit or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year. As with any abusive or violent relationship, dating violence takes a toll on teenagers and their mental health and wellbeing. You should be aware of the risks and effects of this dangerous phenomenon and seek help where needed. This is paramount to help your children develop healthy relationships in the future.

What exactly constitutes teen dating violence?

Teen dating violence can occur in many ways. It may include physical or sexual violence or emotional abuse:

  • Physical violence includes punching, shoving, hitting, slapping, grabbing, kicking, throwing, shaking, and choking.
  • Sexual violence includes any unwanted sexual activity, from pressure to have sex to rape. It’s important to keep in mind that sexual violence does not have to include physical contact; for example, threatening to find someone else who will perform sex acts, verbal or sexual harassment, or threats of sexual violence are all types of sexual violence.
  • Emotional abuse is just as damaging to teens, and in some cases can be more dangerous than physical violence because the victim does not consider the mistreatment as abuse. Name calling, teasing, bullying, intimidating, threatening, humiliating, and controlling are just a few examples of emotional abuse that may occur in teen dating violence.

What are the effects of teen dating violence?

The Emotional Consequences: Teens’ mental health and emotional development are negatively impacted by dating violence. Because teens are greatly influenced by their relationships, they can experience both short- and long-term negative effects as a result. Victims often do poorly in school and abuse alcohol, attempt suicide or get into physical altercations with others. Victims also are at an increased risk for continuing the pattern of violent relationships in the future. Teen dating violence victims often experience depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

teen-depression

Depression in teens

Studies show that one out of every eight teens has depression, but the risk increases for victims of dating violence. Teens who have depression complain of headaches, stomachaches, low back pain, and fatigue. They have difficulty concentrating and making decisions, and they act irresponsibly. They also lose interest in food or other activities they used to enjoy. They may have difficulty sleeping and sleep during the day. These teens also feel hopeless and may have a preoccupation with “death or dying”. They also may attempt suicide.

Mood disorders especially in teenage girls

While both boys and girls can be the victims of dating violence, girls are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a mood disorder than boys. In terms of emotional recognition, girls mature more quickly than boys, and this makes them more vulnerable to depression and anxiety; the risks increase for girls who are victims of dating violence. Girls who have depression and anxiety are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide. They also are more likely to abuse substances like drugs and alcohol. Other results of mood disorders in girls that occur more often than in boys are eating disorders and self-injury, or cutting.

mental-health

PTSD in teens

Teens who experience traumatic events or who are the victims of serious injury or violence are at a much greater risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Girls are more likely than boys to develop PTSD, and they experience symptoms for a longer duration than boys. One of the most common symptoms of PTSD is having flashbacks and becoming highly distressed when exposed to reminders of the traumatic event or violence. Teens with PTSD are irritable or jumpy and have difficulty concentrating and sleeping. One in-home treatment option for teen victims of dating violence is to get a PTSD service dog. These dogs are specially trained to help individuals with PTSD, and they can provide comfort during bouts of depression and can calm teens during flashbacks.

Treatment for teen victims of dating violence

There are a number of resources for teen dating violence victims. Helplines for victims of teen dating violence include the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (1-866-331-9474), the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-7233), and the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673). Other resources are available online, including Love is Respect and the Date Safe Project. If your teen has become addicted to drugs or alcohol as a result of dating violence, it is important that you seek professional help for him as quickly as possible. Addiction recovery is possible with the professional help and your love and support.

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Conclusion

Teens need to feel safe when dating. As parents, the onus lies on us to keep the discussion channels open with our teens and take immediate action when we suspect any dating violence. As with any other aspect of our children’s development, the key is to seek professional help where necessary and provide maximum support. Sometimes, lending a shoulder to cry on is all a child needs to rebuild their mental health and avoid succumbing to addiction or suicidal thoughts.

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