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Welcome to the The Cap – our very own recap series of the topics and trends impacting teens and tweens today dedicated to keeping the common parent in the know.
📮 In today's Issue, we cover:
🚩Disclaimer: If you believe your teen is involved with an abusive partner, do not wait to step in. If they attend the same school, consider talking to the guidance counselor. If you suspect physical or sexual abuse, enlist the help of a physician and mental health professional. And if you believe your child is in imminent danger, contact law enforcement.
What is it ?
Teen dating violence or “TDV” is the emotional, physical or sexual abuse between two young people who are currently or formerly involved in an intimate relationship. 
👋 Physical abuse can take many overt forms like pinching, shoving, hair pulling, slapping, hitting, biting, kicking, strangulation, etc. Sometimes the abuse will start by "teasing" their partner with pinching or slapping and progress to more obvious and dangerous forms of violence later. Physical abuse can also be damaging personal property and threats of physical abuse, assault and stalking.
❤️‍🩹 Emotional abuse can include subtle and not-so-subtle things like jealousy, possessiveness, manipulation, shaming, guilting and controlling behavior like telling a partner where to be, who they can talk to or what to wear and keeping them away from friends, family or even certain activities. It can also include overt acts like name-calling, insults, teasing, belittling, bullying (via texts, online and in person), intentionally embarrassing their partner and keeping them away from friends and/or family. Silent abuse can also be a form of emotional abuse using a lack of communication to punish the other. It is a passive aggressive form of manipulation and control that can trigger self-doubt, panic, anxiety and a sense of insignificance in the other.
🆘 Sexual abuse involves any kind of unwanted touching and actions like forcing a partner into a sexual act they haven’t consented to or are not able to consent to. This includes sexting someone without their consent or sending sexual or nude photos of their partner to others.

It is important to remember that abuse has no gender or profile. Teens of any gender, sexual orientation, age, race, religion, size, shape, popularity and stature in society can be the abuser and/or the abused in a teen dating violence situation.

🚨 Why it matters
1 in 12 teens have experienced teen dating violence. Female teens experience the highest rates of dating violence followed by LGTBQ+ teens or those unsure of their sexual identity. 
And on top of the dangers that TDV presents to the teens involved through the abuse itself, there is also strong correlation between TDV and struggles in other areas:
  • 📚 Academics - If a teen has engaged in dating violence (either having been the perpetrator or the victim) there is a higher likelihood their overall grades and performance in school will suffer.
  • 🛟 Reckless Behavior - Teens who are victims of dating violence are more likely than their non-abused peers to smoke, use drugs and turn to unhealthy methods of dieting like using laxatives, diet pills or binging and purging. They're also more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior,
  • 🧠 Mental Health -  Teens who are victims of dating violence are also more like to suffer from anxiety, depression, self-doubt and even suicidal ideation.
  • Future Abuse - Once a teen has been involved in an abusive relationship, they're more likely to suffer violence in future relationships and, ultimately, they can end up the victims and/or perpetrators of adult intimate partner violence
  • 🥊 Proclivity for Violence - Adolescents in abusive relationships often carry these unhealthy patterns of violence into future relationships. Just as children who are victimized or witness violence frequently bring their experiences with them to the playground, classroom, etc. because it is what they know.

🎒 The Cap
As parents and guardians, knowing what to watch out for in spotting signs of dating violence and abuse is vitally important in protecting our teens (mind, body and soul) from unhealthy relationships and abusive partners.
🚧 Here are some signs to watch out for:
  • Changes in behavior or mood that are hard to explain - especially when their partner is present
  • Edginess and tension in places that were once comfortable
  • Unexplained injuries or bruises
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Isolation from family or friends
  • Loss of enjoyment or interest in activities they once liked
  • Making excuses for their partner’s behavior
  • Flinching or physical reactions to unexpected movements, noises, etc.
🔔 Here’s what you can do if you suspect TDV:
  • Check in regularly with your teen about their relationship. They might not share everything all at once (as teens rarely do) but gather the information slowly, over time, to get a better picture of how things are going.
  • If you see something, say something. Do not let your suspicions or signs go without raising a concern as a parent or guardian.
  • Believe them & take it seriously. Don't question them or doubt what they're telling you.  It may be very hard for your teen to admit to TDV.
  • Offer unconditional support. Make it clear they are not alone and you will protect them and stand by them no matter what.
  • Involve Professionals.  Speak to their school counselor. Call a mental health professional. In extreme cases, law enforcement might be the next step.

☀️ The good news
Leading by example and helping our teens learn the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships before they start dating is a crucial step in combating rates of Teen Dating Violence and its harmful effects. Teaching our children that healthy relationships are based on mutual respect and good communication and modeling behaviors for them to mirror will help your teen identify situations and relationships that are not good for them. When your teen gets to watch you work through life’s problems and conflicts with your partner and others respectfully and without aggression, it has a profound impact on their partner choices and overall approach to life.  
Teach them that everyone deserves relationships free from dating violence. Without exception.

Love is respect…and they shouldn’t settle for anything less.

Teen Dating Violence Sources and Resources:

Founders of The Common Parent: Catherine Belknap and Natalie Telfer (Cat & Nat)
The Cap Contributors:  Catherine Belknap, Natalie Telfer, Kelly Kresen, Josee Telfer, Cath Tassie, Lauren Bechard and Allie Coughlin
Special Thanks to Dr. Daphne King

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The contents of The Cap and The Common Parent platforms, portals and emails (the "Content") are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, therapy, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your situation.