February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Take a moment to read through these simple tips that could make all the difference.
One in three adolescents is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse.  Which means statistically one in three girls is a victim of abuse. Take a look around, these are our daughters, our neighbors, and our friends. The key to understanding, detecting, and preventing Teen Dating Violence is knowing the truth, learning the signs, and ultimately providing care and support to those affected.
Step 1: Educate yourself.
- Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse. 
- 25% of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse. 
- Teen girls who have been physically and sexually abused are six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get an STI. 
Step 2: Know the Signs.
Be supportive and listen patiently. Acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of their decisions. Help your friend recognize that the abuse is not "normal" and is NOT their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.
Don't contact their abuser or publicly post negative things about them online. It'll only worsen the situation for your friend. In the end the attention should not be on the abuser, but focus on helping your friend. Have their back, hold their hand.
Get help. Call Teen Dating Violence Hotline at 1-800-331-9474; the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE; or CHOICES at 614-224-HOME.
Originally published by the Women's Fund of Central Ohio