Teen dating violence is more common than some realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 11 female high school students reports being the victim of physical dating violence within the past year. One in 14 male high school students also reports being the victims of physical teen dating violence.
Teen dating violence also doesn’t need to be physical in nature. For example, stalking and psychological aggression also qualify as forms of violence that may involve current or former romantic partners.
Hopefully, you will never be the victim of such behavior. Still, you should know what you can do to protect yourself if you encounter dating violence.
You should consider taking the following steps:
Get a Restraining Order
Getting a restraining order is often one of the most effective ways to address teen dating violence. The specific conditions of a restraining order can vary depending on the circumstances. However, taking this step usually prohibits your abuser from contacting you or being near you.
That said, it’s important to understand that the proper way to go about getting a restraining order can depend on the state where you live, the nature of the abuse, and more. You may want to consult with a legal expert to improve your chances of obtaining a restraining order.
Hire an Attorney
It may be wise to review your case with an attorney if you have been the victim of teen dating violence.
A lawyer may be able to help you by:
- Asking law enforcement or courts to enforce the terms of a restraining order
- Gathering evidence to prove a restraining order is justified or necessary
- In some cases, helping you pursue compensation for your struggles
It’s best to at least schedule a consultation with an attorney in these circumstances. The vast majority of lawyers will review your case for free. A lawyer can help you better understand your legal options when you’re being abused.
Preventing your abuser from causing you further harm may be your number one priority if you’re the victim of teen dating violence. That said, it’s also important to address any of the harm they may have already caused.
Victims of teen dating violence often struggle with depression, anxiety, and similar difficulties. You shouldn’t have to manage these feelings on your own.
Strongly consider seeing a therapist to discuss these challenges. It’s entirely possible to recover both mentally and emotionally after being victimized. Doing so tends to be easier with the help of trained professionals.
A therapist’s insights might also be able to help you more clearly determine if you are a victim. Some victims of teen dating violence don’t realize they’re being mistreated until the severity of the abuse escalates. Thus, in some instances, therapists help victims avoid being seriously harmed or taken advantage of.
Document the Abuse
This can be a painful step to take. However, it’s a necessary one.
Your abuser may claim you are lying if you take legal action against them. You need to prepare accordingly by gathering evidence proving they have been engaging in teen dating violence.
How you may do so will depend on the nature of their behavior. If they’re sending threatening texts or emails, save them. If you’ve been the victim of physical violence, see a doctor and take pictures of your wounds. If you’re being psychologically abused, make a note of the time and date when any instance of abuse occurs. Write a brief but accurate summary of the abuse when doing so.
Once more, you will hopefully never need to apply this advice. That said, because teen dating violence is a relatively widespread problem, all teens should know how to respond to it. Taking these steps if you’re ever the victim of teen dating violence can play a key role in your personal safety.