Darian Towner

Submitted by Darian Towner, Prevention Specialist, House of Hope

February is often considered the month of love, with Valentine’s Day falling on the 14th. Often, hearts, flowers, chocolates and sweet love notes come to mind. Choosing this month to celebrate someone you love is wonderful, but unfortunately, not everyone experiences love and appreciation this month.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Abuse in a relationship can happen at any age, so why set aside an entire month to focus specifically on teen dating violence? According to the U.S. Department of Justice, girls and young women between age 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, at a number that is almost triple the national average.

In Oklahoma, students who reported physical abuse by a boyfriend or girlfriend reported higher rates of depression and alcohol use than students who had not experienced abuse from an intimate partner, an Oklahoma Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows. Therefore, not only do Oklahoma youth experience abusive relationships, but they also face long-term effects because of the abuse.

If you are a parent or guardian of a preteen or teen, consider setting aside some time to discuss healthy relationships and dating boundaries. If you need help starting the conversation, visit loveisrespect.org for tips and resources for you and your child.

Please understand that love is not abuse. As always, if you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, sexual assault or stalking and would like more information, contact House of Hope at 405-275-3176 or visit us online at facebook.com/cpnhouseofhope.