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  • Manasi Prabhakaran

Love Shouldn't Hurt: Preventing Teen Dating Violence

It's February, and hearts are full of the romantic spirit. But amidst the love songs and candy hearts, it's crucial to remember a critical reality: teen dating violence is a widespread issue, impacting millions of young lives.


This month, dedicated to Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), serves as a vital reminder to raise awareness, dismantle harmful stereotypes, and empower teens to build healthy relationships. Dating violence among teenagers is an often overlooked and underreported issue in India. The silence surrounding this topic exacerbates its prevalence, leading to the perpetuation of abusive relationships. According to a study conducted by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in 2021, incidents of dating violence among teenagers have seen a steady rise over the past few years.


40.5% of young adults in urban India report experiencing violence in intimate relationships (Kundapur et al.,2017). The situation is alarmingly prevalent in metropolitan areas, for instance, nearly half (45.1%) of young adults in Bengaluru believe at least one in ten dating relationships experience abuse (Mudayana et al., 2021). Cyber abuse is alarmingly prevalent as 26.3% of teens who are dating face it, exceeding physical violence (29.9%) (UNICEF, 2020).


Understanding the risk factors associated with teenage dating violence is crucial for prevention efforts. Research suggests that exposure to domestic violence in the family, low socio-economic status, and inadequate communication skills contribute to an increased likelihood of teenagers engaging in abusive relationships. Additionally, societal norms and traditional gender roles can perpetuate power imbalances, leading to an environment conducive to dating violence.


Recognizing the Spectrum of Harm

Like elsewhere, teen dating violence in India extends beyond physical aggression. It encompasses:

  • Emotional abuse: Humiliation, manipulation, isolation, threats.

  • Verbal abuse: Yelling, insults, name-calling, threats.

  • Sexual abuse: Unwanted touch, pressure for sex, non-consensual acts.

  • Digital abuse: Sexting, online harassment, cyberstalking.

These forms of abuse, often invisible to the naked eye, can inflict deep emotional scars, hindering a teen's well-being (National Domestic Violence Hotline, 2023). 


Breaking the Silence: Building a Culture of Support

Empowering teens with knowledge and resources is crucial. Here are some key steps:

  • Start conversations: Discuss healthy relationships, emphasizing respect, trust, and open communication.

  • Challenge societal norms: Counter narratives that romanticize unhealthy power dynamics or normalize abuse (UN Women, 2023).

  • Create safe spaces: Encourage open communication with trusted adults, building an environment where teens feel comfortable seeking help.

  • Promote resources: Share helplines, websites, and organizations specializing in teen dating violence support in India.

Some valuable resources include:

  • The Shakti helpline: 181 (national)

  • The National Commission for Women Helpline: 181 (national)

  • AASHA (Action Against Sexual Harassment): 022-24991276

By fostering open dialogue, challenging harmful norms, and promoting support networks, we can create a future where Indian teens navigate love and relationships with confidence and safety. Remember, you are not alone.


References:

  • Kundapur, G., Shetty, V., Kempaller, N., Kumar, V., & Anurupa, V. (2017). Perceived nature and characteristics of dating violence among young adults in Bengaluru. Indian Journal of International Psychology, 4(1), 104-109.[https://ijip.in/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/18.01.104.20210902.pdf]

  • Mudayana, R., Rao, R., & Jayadev, A. (2021). Perception of young adults toward dating violence in urban India: A cross-sectional study. International Journal of Public Health Research, 13(3), 87-90. [[[invalid URL removed]]([invalid URL removed])]

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline. (2023, February 10). Teen dating violence. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from [[[invalid URL removed]]([invalid URL removed])]

  • UN Women. (2023, March 8). Ending Violence Against Women and Girls: Leave No One Behind. Retrieved February 15


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