In a New York Times blog, Motherlode, author and mother Judy Bolton-Fasman remembers growing up in the era before e-mails or cellphones, and wishing there had been a Teen Violence Awareness Month back then.
Thirty years later and in a happy marriage, Bolton-Fasman recounts a relationship in college that inhibited her physical and emotional growth. When she recently read through the New York City mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence’s Web site on the dangers of teenage dating abuse, she was shocked to realize how much of her development had been disrupted and her confidence shaken by trying to please her boyfriend, who while not physically abusive, had verbally and emotionally abused her for years.
As Bolton-Fasman points out in her blog, in the past few years domestic abuse in teenage relationships has been recognized as a public health issue. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a page on its Web site dedicated to underscoring the seriousness of teenage dating violence, which it defines “as the physical, sexual or psychological emotional violence within a dating relationship, as well as stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and may occur between a current or former dating partner.” According to the C.D.C., almost 10 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Add to this the emotional and verbal abuse that can occur in teenage relationships and the rate is even higher.
Abusive teenage relationships are often marked by isolation — an isolation that can become increasingly unhealthy until it is dangerous. Many organizations base their teenage relationship abuse prevention programs on all-important peers – high school students trained to recognize signs of dating abuse and act as peer counselors. Similarly, Bolton-Fasman overcame her abusive relationship through the support of a group of close friends – her peers were her salvation.
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month puts domestic abuse on everyone’s radar and makes our children aware that healthy relationships are paramount to having a fair start in life. Let’s stop teen dating abuse before it starts by educating our children and promoting opportunities for open communication.
Source: New York Times, Motherlode Blog, February 15, 2013,