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Teen Dating Violence Is Definitely Worth Bringing Up... But How?

teens dating relationships

Parenting is a wonderful gift, with oh so many challenges along the way. Raising adolescents is a time that takes pure grit. And a lot of boundary checking. But in the end, can be so rewarding. With how busy it can be, it’s important to intentionally take time out to talk about teen dating violence with your child.

Teens are going through incredible changes in their autonomy and biology, experiencing hormonal and social motivations of a child no longer exploring innocently, but starting to make their way into the patterns of adulthood. To help them get through these times, it can seem easy to give up or throw up your hands during hard times, but don’t give up! Even though it can be uncomfortable, it is important to talk to them. Your teen might be truly calling out for help, but it can be easy to miss their signal as a parent. That is why it is important to take a proactive approach to learning about relationships. Teens need their parent’s wisdom at this time where their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed. It is time to start developing socially as well as academically.

As a teen, we are exploring relationships with new wonder, setting the stage for future relationships. With the reality that so many teens experience teen dating violence, one in three adolescents, it is important to help the child understand the inherent dangers with growing older and developing relationships and moving safely in the world. Here is some important information worth passing on to your child. There are healthy relationship guides, info on how to navigate the digital age with cell phones, and learn about bystander intervention:

Starting the Conversation Early

Warning Signs


Get Help

If you suspect your teen may be a victim of abuse, you as a parent are the most important resource for your child. And if you need support, personally, there are resources to help. Remind your teen that they deserve a healthy relationship free from violence and that abuse is NEVER appropriate and NEVER their fault.

Understand that the impact of trauma such as teen dating violence shows up in various ways, but look for signs, such as depression, isolation, mood changes, substance abuse, etc.

Explain to your teen what abusive behavior can look like. Know the warning signs of unhealthy partner behavior, such as extreme criticism, humiliation, controlling behavior, jealousy, blame, isolation, and threats. Knowing how to spot the signs of unhealthy behavior can help them navigate the ways around it healthily. That is where talking about boundaries and consent are very important as well as defining values and expectations in relationships.

If your teen isn’t open to talking about their potentially harmful relationship, let them know you are there for them and will not judge them. There are confidential resources and trained individuals who can help your child who might be going through a challenging experience.

Pass on the information below, but let your teen know you are always available to talk.

If at any time you feel that you or your teen are in immediate danger, call 911.

Community Beyond Violence (Nevada County)

(530) 272-2046 (M-F 9-5)

Crisis Text Chat :

24/7 crisis line @ (530) 272-3467

Love is Respect


866-331-8453 TTY

National Domestic Violence Hotline

800-799-SAFE (7233)

800-787-3224 TTY

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) Hotline

800-656-HOPE (4673)

The Trevor Project 🏳️‍🌈


Wanting more resources for Teen Dating Violence?

Visit Community Beyond Violence’s page here to learn more. It takes a community to take care of each other. And talking to your kid about dating violence can go a far way to help them find resources and prevent violence in the future.

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Updated: Feb 24

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Many people are unaware of how prevalent teen dating violence is.

In the US, one in three teens will experience physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from someone they’re in a relationship with before they become adults—and nearly half of college women report experiencing abusive dating behavior.

Here in Nevada County, 80 percent of youth ages 12-25 reported having experienced, or knowing someone who has experienced, domestic violence in a survey conducted by the Nevada County Community Action Team (NCCAT, a community volunteer group led by the Community Beyond Violence Prevention Team).

How Does Dating Violence Affect Us?

Experience of, and exposure to, violence can lead to a young person’s perpetuating the cycle of abuse into adulthood (either as a perpetrator or victim) and can lead to many other long-term harmful effects such as struggles with substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and more.

Education is key to prevention. Our Prevention Team is actively collaborating with local school counselors, teachers, and administrators to bring violence prevention to our students, particularly through our Healthy Relationships training program. This program teaches teens about consent, setting boundaries, traits of a healthy relationship, red flags that indicate an unhealthy relationship, where to seek support, and much more. Students themselves have been asking for action and education around this issue.

Learning The Upstream Model From From Desmond Tutu

You may have heard this quote from Desmond Tutu: We need to stop jumping in the river to save people; we need to go upstream to find out why they’re falling in. This popular allegory (on which Mr. Tutu’s quote is based) illustrates the importance of solving public health issues—such as violence prevention—by getting to the root of the problem: As you’re standing by a river and see someone drowning as they float downstream, you jump in to save them. But, as you try to save more drowning people, you realize you need to go upstream to discover what is causing so many people to fall into the river. You discover a hole in the bridge where people are falling through.

In order to further respond to students’ needs for action around violence prevention, our team is inviting them to participate in a creative writing opportunity titled, “Building Bridges Beyond Violence: My View.” We believe it is important to hear from those who are directly affected by teen dating violence and begin the discussion around what changes could help prevent this behavior.

Upstream Writing Prompt: Earn Money!

Here is the writing prompt: After reading the “upstream” story above, what are some bridges that need to be repaired in our community that can help prevent teen dating violence? We encourage youth to be as creative as they wish. Essays should be 1,000 words or less—and one submission per participant will be accepted. We will award those who submit the first 25 essays a $150 Visa gift card; all other participants will be rewarded. The deadline for submission is March 5, 2022. All submissions may be sent online here:

Community Beyond Violence’s NCCAT invites people of all ages to join us in working toward creative change through healthier relationships. If you are interested, visit, or email or We welcome your thoughts and participation.

Need Resources For Teen Dating Violence or Domestic Violence?

If you or someone you know is struggling with an unhealthy relationship, call our 24-hour crisis line at 530-272-3467. You can also reach us via text at 530-290-6555 or via webchat at For more information about all our services, visit

MK Webb and Marah DeFlavia are Community Organizers with the Community Beyond Violence Prevention Team.

Original article posted 2/15/22 through The Union. View original article here:

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Written by: Beth Volz, originally published in The Union September 30, 2021.

In general, people don’t want to talk about domestic violence, but it is much more prevalent than most people realize. The recent media coverage about Gabby Petito, whose remains were found in a Wyoming national park following an altercation with her boyfriend, has brought the issue into the national conversation.

(It should be noted that Ms. Petito was a white woman, and that white victims typically receive more attention than indigenous people and people of color.)

On average, 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner in the United States. That’s nearly 29,000 people per day nationwide.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in seven men are abused by an intimate partner during their lifetimes. Indeed, intimate partner abuse is so prevalent that chances are you know someone who is, or who has been, a victim. One reason it remains so widespread is that there is a general lack of understanding about the myriad aspects surrounding it. Put succinctly, it’s complicated.

We often hear the question, “Why don’t they leave?” or “Why don’t they report their abuse to the police?” Many people aren’t familiar with the pattern of power and control abusers wield over their victims. One of the most effective ways abusers keep that power and control over their victims is through an insidious, systematic process of psychological manipulation that often eventually leads to physical violence. Abusers employ several tactics (which are remarkably similar to those used on prisoners of war), such as:

Fear: Fear of escalation of violence and retaliation for working with law enforcement — abusers often threaten to harm or kill their victims’ family, friends, and even their pets.

Brainwashing/destroying sense of self-worth: Abusers typically begin to break down their victims’ sense of self through increasingly frequent put-downs and name-calling.

Guilt: Establishing guilt in the victim’s mind is also an effective method of mind control. Abusers often make their victims feel guilty for not constantly pleasing them.

Gaslighting: Making their victims believe that their feelings are unjustified, so that the victims begin to question their own beliefs and feelings.

Cycle of abuse: The perpetrator will sometimes offer a small kindness or apology after an abusive incident, only to repeat the cycle of abuse over and over again.

Isolation: Abusers methodically isolate their victims from family and friends so that eventually, victims may end up with no support system.

Domestic abuse doesn’t affect merely the victim, nor only involve law enforcement personnel. It also has far-reaching impacts on entire communities in terms of lost productivity at work, medical costs, and the safety of all residents.

Awareness and community action are key to preventing and reducing domestic violence.

If you are interested in being part of the solution, visit us at to find out how you can get involved.

You might want to check out our Prevention Team’s Nevada County Community Action Team composed of enthusiastic, supportive adults and youth who want to help ignite social change.

If you are interested, contact our prevention coordinator, Craig Terry at

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call our 24-hour crisis line at 530-272-3467. You can also contact us by texting 530-290-6555, or via web chat ( or

Beth Volz is an outreach support specialist with Community Beyond Violence.


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