MADISON (WKOW) — One in twelve high school students has experienced physical or sexual dating violence, according to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Female students report higher rates of these types of violence compared to men.
Similarly, those who identify as LGBTQ or are unsure about their gender identity experience higher rates of these types of violence compared to students who identify as heterosexual.
In light of these stats and as part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, doctors at UW Health are sharing warning signs of abuse and unhealthy relationships.
UW Health states all relationships exist on a spectrum from healthy to abusive, with unhealthy relationships falling in the middle. To identify an unhealthy or abusive relationship, UW Health recommends looking for these signs.
- Invasion of privacy, including checking your cell phone, email or social media without permission
- Constant put-downs
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity
- Explosive temper or mood swings
- Isolating you from family or friends
- Making false accusations
- Physically hurting you in any way
- Possessiveness or controlling behavior. Do they need to know where you are at all times?
- Pressuring you or forcing you to have sex
- Vandalizing or ruining your personal property
Dr. Paula Cody, an Adolescent Health Expert with UW Health, gave more concrete examples of these warning signs.
"If your partner wants to look at your phone to see who you're texting, see who you're calling, where have you checked in your social media, that is a red flag for an unhealthy relationship," she said. "If someone is not making you feel good about yourself, if they're commenting on your looks, your weight, your intelligence or how you handle certain situations, that might be a sign of an unhealthy relationship."
Cody said feeling safe in any relationship is key.
"It is important for teenagers to always feel safe in the relationships and this can be friend relationships, dating relationships, family relationships," she said. "You always need to feel safe. If someone is making you not feel safe, that is not an okay situation."
If you find yourself in a relationship where you feel unsafe, she recommends you speak to a trusted adult, like a parent or your health care provider.
Dr. Cody also said she notices her patients don't talk about abuse or unhealthy relationships unless she talks about it, which is why she says it's an important topic.
You can learn more about how you can help prevent teen dating violence online.