Letter of the Week: How to spot, stop teen dating violence

Published: Sunday, January 11, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 10, 2009 at 12:25 a.m.

In the past week, national media attention has been paid to the issue of teen dating violence.

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Dating violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behaviors designed to exert power and control over a person in an intimate relationship through the use of intimidation, threat, physical or psychological harm, or harassment and includes physical, emotional, verbal, and/or sexual abuse.

Recent studies have shown that 20 percent of 11-14-year-olds say they know a friend who has been struck in anger (hit, kicked, slapped, or punched) by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Some warning signs of teen dating violence include:

Extreme jealousy

Telling someone what to do/wear

Isolation from friends and family

Excessive phone calls/text messages


Teen dating violence is truly an issue that affects our entire community and requires social change. Increased research shows a blurred line between bullying, sexual harassment, and dating violence amongst students of all ages.

In addition, studies have also shown connections between dating violence, peer violence, and suicidal behaviors.

Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network's Violence Prevention Program has been working with local schools and community partners for five years on preventing teen dating violence before it begins. Our program talks with young people about a variety of topics related to healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, including dating violence, gender stereotypes, media literacy, and healthy communication.

To find out more about teen dating violence and our program, please visit www.GainesvilleDELTA.org, or contact me at 352-377-5690. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and need help, call our confidential help line at (352) 377-8255 or 1-800-393-SAFE.

Anna Guest-Jelley,

Director of

Violence Prevention

Peaceful Paths,


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