Evanston/North Shore

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

by Craige Christensen, Violence Prevention Education and Outreach Coordinator
Posted February 11, 2016


Craige Christensen (l), pictured with the Building Healthy Relationships team. 

Our Building Healthy Relationships team at YWCA Evanston/ North Shore works year round to increase awareness and recognition of teen dating violence. We also work with youth to develop the socio-emotional skills they need to develop healthy relationships built on respect, honesty, trust, support, equality and safety.

In the United States, 1 in 3 teens has experienced some form of abuse from a dating partner. Dating violence affects 1.5 million teens annually. (Love is Respect.org)
Many people assume that teen dating violence is only physical or sexual abuse. Often those are the most obvious signs of abuse. Less obvious, but no less harmful forms of abuse are:

  • Emotional/verbal abuse: Putting you down, humiliating and threatening you, or controlling who you see and what you do as well as how you look—hair, make-up, clothes you wear.
  • Digital abuse: Sexting, using social media to humiliate, threaten or stalk you. It also includes a partner demanding sign-on information and logging in to your digital accounts without asking permission.
  • Financial abuse: Preventing you from working, and taking your money.

The Building Healthy Relationships program at YWCA Evanston/North Shore uses early education, starting with kindergarteners, with classes focused on skills of empathy, emotion management, and problem solving/conflict resolution.

Our teen dating violence curriculum is geared to students as young as fifth grade. We start with workshops that teach recognizing healthy and unhealthy behaviors in all relationships, whether in school, with friends, or in extracurricular activities.

As we move fully into middle school and high school, we get more in depth as we teach skills of setting boundaries, and healthy ways to help friends who are either abused or abusive. Through all the classes we look at the influences of culture, media and stereotypes.

Unhealthy behaviors can start early and can last a lifetime. But prevention strategies, like YWCA’s Building Healthy Relationships, have been proven to prevent and reduce dating violence. For more information about this program and how to offer it at your organization, contact me at cchristensen@ywcae-ns.org.

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