In Connecticut, teenage dating violence has declined slightly, but on average 1,300 teens say they have experienced some form of violence each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2013, 1,436 or 11.1 percent of teenagers surveyed said that they experienced sexual dating violence compared to 1,328 or 8.0 percent of teenagers in 2015. For physical dating violence the numbers fell from 1,466 teens or 9.0 percent in 2013 to 1,276 teens or 11.5 percent in 2015.
This mirrors a national trend where the number of teens experiencing physical or sexual dating violence has dropped slightly. Nationally, about 10,000 teens reported experiencing physical and sexual dating violence yearly, reports show.
Around this age, teenagers “can experience very real and amazing emotions like love when you’re dating in high school but know that a lot of super serious issues can come up in those relationships as well.” said Meg Malone, a writer on the teen website gurl.com.
Teenagers who are victims of unhealthy relationships often suffer years after, experts say.
“Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence,” according to experts writing for lovesisrespect.org.
Sometimes, the victims often feel that there will be no end to suffering, which leads to a devastating decision, experts on teen websites say.
“Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape have attempted suicide, compared to 12.5 percent of non-abused girls and 5.4 percent of non-abused boys,” according to www.safv.org.
Teenagers need to learn about the dangers and signs of an abusive relationship.
“Teens tend to brush things off when in relationships that turn out to be abusive physically and mentally,” said Felicia Grecco, 16, of Waterbury.
While statistics show that a majority of the victims of teen dating violence are female, males also experience dating violence.
Ten percent of high school boys also report having been physically or sexually assaulted by a dating partner, according to the CDC.
“People believe that [boys] they’re stronger than a females or a significant other and disregard the type of emotional abuse he could be going through,” said Grecco.
Cameron Feliciano, 17 of Waterbury, said that teens should be savvier when it comes to relationships. They need to “learn about the dangers of abusive relationships to prevent them being in one in the future by being able to see the signs before things get out of hand,” she said.
Youth.gov, a resource for teenagers, recommends ways to avoid dating violence is to eliminate many of the risk factors, such as beginning to date an early age, engaging in sexual intercourse in early teen years and exposure to in-home violence.
Youth.gov suggests, “It is important to create spaces, such as safe school communities, where the behavioral norms are not tolerant of abuse in dating relationships.”
Jurea McIntosh is a student at John F. Kennedy High School, Waterbury.