By Eka Tawe, 18, Staff Writer
February 28, 2020
Since joining (and now running) the SPEAK club at my school, I’ve learned a lot about violence in teen dating. SPEAK is part of a New Jersey non-profit organization called Safe + Sound Somerset, whose mission is to “empower survivors of domestic violence and encourage the community to break the cycle of violence”. There are various SPEAK clubs at various high schools that work for those affected by domestic violence and draw attention to this problem.
If I hadn’t joined, I probably wouldn’t know anything else about dating violence other than that it exists. It is therefore important to me that other teenagers learn about dating violence and that those who are involved know that they are not alone. How can we improve it without knowledge? For this reason, in February we recognize the month of awareness of violence in teen dating to raise awareness.
Dating violence in teens is more common than most people think or believe. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior survey and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey…
- Almost one in eleven female and approximately one in 15 male students say they have experienced dating violence in the past year.
- Approximately one in nine female and one in 36 male students report experiencing sexual dating violence in the past year.
Abuse comes in many forms, including emotional, cyberbullying, isolation / intimidation, social status / peer pressure, and sexual assault.
Know the characters
Dating as a teenager is of course not always risky! However, it is important to know the red flags. I learned from the SPEAK Club that some behaviors are excessive jealousy, unexpected anger, and anger that prevent a partner from spending time with other people, constant surveillance, false accusations, and bullying. However, recognizing these red flags is not always easy. It can be difficult to admit that something feels wrong. Sometimes people talked to me about their relationships and I noticed the red flags before they do. When this happens, I talk to them about it, but not accusingly. I always want them to understand that I have their best interests at heart, and I’m not just telling them what to do. Sometimes it is challenging because it can be difficult to accept that a relationship is not “perfect”, but it is still important to talk to them.
You deserve to feel safe
Everyone has the right to emotional and physical security. According to the Teen Safety Planning part of the Safe + Sound Somerset websiteSome ways to take care of your emotional security are: 1) trust your instincts 2) set limits 3) remind you that it’s not your fault and 4) take your time.
Respect, communication, trust and limits are the basis for a healthy relationship. No one should ever feel powerless in their relationship, and if you feel that way or if you think you can make someone feel that way, contact us. There are resources if you think you are in an unsafe situation (see below). Talk to friends or a trusted adult. It’s okay. asking for help.
Websites like BreaktheCycle.org. LoveIsRespect.org and SafeVoices.org can help you learn and identify the signs of dating violence. Visit for immediate help TheHotline.org or call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233, a free 24-hour resource.
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