Tips this Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, but dating violence can happen at any age, and that’s why it is important to be able to recognize what behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable in a relationship. The warning signs that someone is experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) or abuse can also be difficult to see, especially if that abuse takes place online.

“Abuse often begins with behaviors that are not physically violent, but might be controlling or violate a person’s boundaries,” said Keeli Sorensen, vice president of victim services. “Even little things that don’t seem like a big deal can escalate over time and eventually put someone at risk. Behaviors such as demanding to know where someone is at all times or controlling the type of clothing that someone wears are abusive.”

Many aspects of relationships today take place virtually through texting, social media such as Instagram or Snapchat, and dating apps—this is especially true for teens and young adults. Online communication can make it even trickier to spot unhealthy behavior. While there are no guaranteed ways to prevent abuse or assault, there are some basic safety tips people can keep in mind when interacting over the internet or meeting in-person.

“Some of the behaviors to watch for online include someone threatening to share images of you without your consent, posting sensitive or inappropriate information about you, or pressuring you to send explicit images of yourself,” said Sorensen. “Not only are these behaviors unhealthy and coercive, but they may also translate to escalated abuse offline.”

Check out RAINN’s resources for more information on how to stay safe online and identify potentially abusive behavior:

Seven out of 10 sexual assaults are committed by someone who knows the victim.

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