Did you know that alcohol and drugs play a major role in increasing violence toward a partner in a relationship? February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, designed to raise awareness about this and related issues.
So, how do drugs and alcohol play a role? One study found that, in junior high and high school, teens who drank alcohol before age 13 were more likely to be both victims and abusers when it comes to physical dating violence. Another study found that teenage girls in abusive relationships are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, have eating disorders, engage in unsafe sexual behaviors, and attempt suicide.
Unfortunately, the number of teens who suffer from abuse in relationships is not small: nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical, emotional, and sexual violence in a relationship during their adolescent years. Many of the contributing factors are preventable, and NIDA needs your help to spread the word and stop the violence.
What Are the Warning Signs?
Here are some signs that a partner might have abusive tendencies. He or she may:
- Be unable to control his or her anger or frustration.
- Lack social skills.
- Use drugs and/or alcohol.
- Be extremely jealous, insecure, or possessive.
- Constantly put you down.
- Check your personal email or phone without asking permission.
- Isolate you from your loved ones.
Although some of these characteristics might sound common, they are extremely unhealthy. If you or someone you know is in a relationship where one person acts like this, there are places you or your friend can go for help.
What Can I Do To Help?
Creating awareness about dating violence among teens can help prevent more teens from getting physically or emotionally abused in their relationships. For example, you might talk to your guidance counselor about hosting an event at your school. The Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month’s website provides free materials to help get your event started.
Or, try talking to someone in your school’s newspaper office to see if they’d be willing to publish an article about teen dating violence. Anything you do to help create awareness could have a positive impact on someone you know.
How Can I (or Someone I Know) Get Help?
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please seek help. Many organizations are willing to provide a free, safe space, as well as counseling. You can call the 24-hour National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or go to LoveIsRespect.org for live chat support. Help is only a text message away. Text “loveis” to 77054 to begin texting with an advocate who can help you.
Also, check out the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Relationship Violence Toolkit.
The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women offers more detailed information on dating violence.