Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and as we embark on another year of the pandemic it may be another trying time for teens as they seek new relationships and maintain old ones. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, teens have been faced with many challenges that have impacted their mental health and emotional well-being. From schools shutting down, social isolation and the loss of loved ones, teens have had to adjust and endure many of the same changes and uncertainties that adults have, except all while being a teenager.
Although a lot of daily life came to an abrupt halt during the pandemic, teenagers remained teenagers. Many teens maintained their friendships and intimate partnerships through social media and have continued to use dating sites to begin new relationships. Although the use of social media during a global pandemic has offered many teens an opportunity to feel less alone, it is important to be aware of the risks and be mindful when talking and getting to know others online.
Some teens have shared their experiences with dating during the pandemic and offer the following tips on how to stay safe.
Dating Red Flags
- Overly jealous, invasion of your privacy, constantly monitoring you or tracking you
- Getting sad or upset when you don’t post about them online
- Getting mad if you don’t text them back right away
- Manipulative or making you feel bad if you don’t do something that they want
- Pushing boundaries, not respecting you, asking for inappropriate pictures or sending inappropriate pictures without your consent
- Controlling who you are friends with or who you talk to
- Harassing you or making threats of humiliation or violence
- Be aware of cat fishing and people who might not be who they portray themselves to be online
- Ask to Facetime or video chat before meeting in real life
- Tell your friends and loved ones who you are talking to or planning to meet
- If meeting someone for the first time or just getting to know them, meet in a public or group setting
- Know your boundaries
- If you’re dating someone and start noticing red flags, reach out to someone you trust for support
- Be mindful of what you share to someone online; only be vulnerable with people you know you can trust
- Keep your socials on private and only accept friend requests from people you know
- Block people who make you feel uncomfortable and report accounts that are inappropriate
- Know your worth, don’t let anyone convince you to do something you’re not comfortable with
- Don’t send explicit pictures or messages online
- If someone is harassing you, block their profile or number and if you feel unsafe call 911
If you think you may be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, or have experienced any of the red flags mentioned above, there is support available. Consider reaching out to a trusted friend, parent, school counselor, therapist or calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233)
Here is the link for the national domestic violence hotline: https://www.thehotline.org/
Doris Pakozdi, LMFT, a clinical therapist in The Guidance Center’s San Pedro Clinic, where she helps guide children and families struggling with mental health conditions or abuse toward positive and productive futures. Before joining The Guidance Center team in 2019, Ms. Pakozdi worked with survivors of domestic violence facilitating the Domestic Violence Women’s Empowerment Group at 1736 Family Crisis Center. Ms. Pakozdi earned a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2019 at California State University, Dominguez Hills.