Guest Editorial

By Miranda Roskamp,

youth advocate with the Southwest Crisis Center.

 

February is Teen Dating Awareness Month

Adults have a vital role assisting teens to define healthy relationships

January usually starts with new resolutions and goals to be healthy and fit physically.

February is a great time to evaluate relationships to ensure they’re healthy as well. It is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

According to loveisrespect.org, the theme this year is: “Hands Unite: Do Your Part.”

We can help young adults feel empowered to explore their relationships and do their part to build healthy relationships.

What does it mean to have a “healthy” relationship, especially when it comes to young people in dating relationships?

One in three teens experience some form of violence from a dating partner but only 33 percent ever tell someone. These stats from loveisrespect.org show that many young adults experience violence but suffer in silence.

There are many different reasons someone experiencing violence wouldn’t say something. Let’s journey through some of these reasons together.

•Maybe you really love this person and think they’ll change.

•Maybe you’ve been told incorrectly that it’s your fault.

•Maybe you don’t know that you’re being abused.

•Maybe you know it’s abuse but don’t know who to talk to.

•Maybe you’ve tried talking to someone before but they didn’t listen or believe you.

•Maybe you don’t want to feel bullied by people at school if you were to say something.

•Maybe you don’t want your partner to get into trouble.

Everyone deserves loving, caring and valued relationships in their lives, where boundaries are clearly communicated and ultimately respected.

I would challenge you to make a list of all of the things that are important to you in a relationship, things like support, encouragement and respect. Then think about how you want to treat your partner in return. This will help you develop healthy boundaries, which are key in any relationship.

You can think about different boundaries as they apply to gender roles as well. Society places many expectations on relationships based on gender, which can significantly impact a dating relationship.

When does a relationship cross over into “unhealthy” territory?

If there is an established pattern of abusive behavior from one partner to the other, or red flags, or “gut feelings,” it is a good idea to re-evaluate the relationship.

Unhealthy relationships may include physical, sexual, emotional, digital, and/or financial harm. Some examples include:

•acting jealous or possessive.

•constantly calling, texting, or checking in.

•preventing time spent with friends/family.

•name-calling or threats.

•having a short temper and/or acting violently.

•physical violence (hit, slap, punch, kick, bite).

•pressure to go farther sexually than wanted.

•suicidal threats in response to a breakup.

•Sharing private images around school, social media, etc.

If you are questioning aspects of your relationship, any relationship, we at the Southwest Crisis Center are here for you. Sometimes talking with someone outside the situation can help you evaluate the health of the relationship.

Our G.R.A.C.E. program focuses on helping young adults (12-24 years old) recognize healthy relationships while providing supportive services and violence prevention education.

Part of prevention includes meeting with youth where they are. To reach them, our G.R.A.C.E. program advocates meet with youth groups, sports teams, school classrooms, and more.

Other advocates are available for adults to speak with as well. All of our services are free and confidential. Our advocates can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 800-376-4311. You can reach our YOUTH TEXT LINE at 218-666-(TEEN) 8336. The text number reaches me and our other local youth advocates directly.

With a new year start fresh goals, so consider letting us help you meet your goal of healthier relationships.

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