Picking up the signs of dating violence

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The teen years are a time of growth, adventure and, unfortunately, violence.

It's estimated that every year, 1.5 million teenagers will experience abuse in a relationship.

In fact, experts believe that in their lives, 1 in 3 adolescents is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

That far exceeds other types of youth violence.

At the college level, nearly a third reported violence from a dating partner.

"Dating violence, especially in teens, could be the beginning of a dangerous pattern or abuse, says Judy May-Bennett, of the American Trauma Society, Pa. Division.

The group is trying to help everyone of all ages recognize the signs of abuse and know how to safely walk away from that kind of relationship.

Among the signs:

* Constantly receiving texts of phone calls

* Becoming isolated from family, friends, or activities the teen used to enjoy

* Change in school work

* Feeling guilty about individual interests

* Changing behavior to avoid fighting with the significant other

* Drinking, using drugs or engaging in sexual activity

For someone involved in an abusive relationship, breaking up with an abuser can be very dangerous.

The Trauma Society says anyone trying to get out should:

1.) tell someone about the situation; never try to handle the situation alone;

2.) if going out, always tell someone where he or she is going and when he or she anticipates being home;

3.) choose a safe route home from school/work and never walk alone;

4.) if you feel unsafe or threatened, call 911.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

To get more information, or to find out if you are in an abusive relationship, visit www.loveisrespect.org.
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