Teen Dating Violence by Jessica Perez

Our lives consist of relationships. From the moment we are born, we’re in relationships with people, things, and most importantly the relationship with ourselves. When I speak on relationships, I think it’s important to note that it is not just “romantic relationships” but all interactions with people in your lives. Many relationships can consume our lives; it is essential to have healthy ones throughout our life span.  How can we start? We must start by establishing boundaries, communication, trust, and respect with the people in our lives. 

February is Teen Violence Awareness Month and I want to highlight some key points about healthy relationships. In order to prevent teen dating violence, it’s extremely vital that the youth learn to identify healthy and unhealthy traits in relationships. Teen dating violence is more common than you’d imagine. I feel sad to see unhealthy patterns being normalized in the media. People can get caught up in unhealthy relationships and internalize it to be normal. We can learn how to identify unhealthy signs as an indicator of emotional, physical, and psychological abuse. These include jealousy, isolation/control, emotional manipulation, and the list goes on. Once these traits and patterns are identified, it is easier to know what should be accepted within a relationship. This allows for accountability, boundaries, and respect to be mutual at all times in all relationships in our lives. 

I’ve realized how incredibly important boundaries are in relationships.  It’s important to establish and maintain boundaries. Boundaries create a safe space and include a lot of respect and self-control. They identify how much is “too much” when it comes to attitudes and behaviors. Within a relationship, it’s important to trust yourself since you know yourself best. You should not allow your emotions to overtake actions either. The best thing right now would be to work on yourself. We must get to know and love ourselves first. Self-love helps us respect ourselves and others. Remember, if you’ve been through a toxic or unhealthy relationship; it’s not your fault. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can get support from your loved ones and friends. Educating yourself to recognize the red flags can help you distinguish what’s healthy vs toxic. You should always trust yourself and express your concerns with your partners, friends, and loved ones.

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