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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month - week three

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month courtesy graphic.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month courtesy graphic.

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --

Week three for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month will focus on the short and long-term effects of Dating Violence. Centers for Disease and Prevention state that unhealthy, abusive, or violent relationships can have severe consequences and short-and long-term negative effects on a developing teen. For example, youth who are victims of Teen Dating violence are more likely to: 
•    Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety
•    Engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
•    Exhibit antisocial behaviors, like lying, theft, bullying or hitting
•    Think about suicide

About 1 in 5 teens in the United States suffer from a mental disorder severe enough to their impact daily activities according to a startling new study. Live Science states that violence in an adolescent relationship sets the stage for problems in future relationships, including intimate partner violence and sexual violence perpetration and/or victimization throughout life. For example, youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.  Unfortunately, adolescents with mental illness are at a higher risk of teen dating violence than others.  Studies show that approximately 10% of adolescents report being the victim of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner during the previous year.  Girls are particularly vulnerable to experiencing violence in their relationships and are more likely to suffer long-term behavioral and health consequences, including suicide attempts, eating disorders, and drug use.

Parents of teens want to pay attention to warning signs that could be the beginning of a mental illness such as depression or anxiety.  Amy Morin, LMSW (2020) states, mental illness presents differently in different people. Some warning signs of teenage mental illness include (but are not limited to) these behaviors.

•    Changes in sleep habits – Your teen may complain of insomnia or she might start taking naps after school. Wanting to stay in bed all day or stay up all night may also be signs of a problem.
•    Loss of interest in usual activities – If your teen quits her favorite activities, or shows a lack of interest in spending time with friends, she may be experiencing a problem.
•    Major changes in academic performance – Mental health issues often lead to dramatic changes in motivation to do school work. If your teen has lost interest in doing her homework, or she suddenly falls behind in school, it could be a sign of a problem.
•    Weight or appetite changes – Skipping meals, hoarding food, and rapid changes in weight could be a sign of an eating disorder. Depression is often characterized by weight changes as well.
•    Extreme moodiness – Excessive anger, unexpected weeping, and high levels of irritability can be a sign of a mental illness.
•    Increased isolation – A strong desire to be alone or excessive secrecy may be a sign of a problem.
Family Advocacy Dyess Air Force Base provides supportive counseling to adolescents and can also help make referrals to off-base counselors if needed.  Family Advocacy can be contacted by calling 325-696-8378.  

Resources and References: 
Preventing Teen Dating Violence |Violence Prevention|Injury Center|CDC
https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teendatingviolence/fastfact.html 

Warning signs of abuse - love is respect
https://www.loveisrespect.org/about-dating/warning-signs-of-abuse/

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