In February, crime victim support organizations get involved for National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month to end the stigma and get people talking about violence seen in our youth. There are many ways to advocate for teen dating violence (TDV) such as being a voice on social media, wearing orange or being there for a friend that has experienced violence. However, Lone Star Legal Aid finds that there are four major ways to Outrage into Action this year until together, we break the cycle of abuse. 

Shift the narrative 

It is vital to talk about TDV because it encourages survivors to tell their truth. It also helps spread awareness of the epidemic by grabbing the attention of parents, students, principles and other community members who might be unaware of the dangers youth face on a daily basis. Everyone deserves healthy relationships and together, we can influence positive change by shifting the narrative of dating violence. The ultimate goal is to break the cycle and end abuse so that we can tackle a new narrative. 

Honor youth voices

It’s important to be advocates for victims of TDV, but it is also essential to just listen as well. Listening and believing survivors is a proactive way to educate others. When survivors tell their stories, they are letting others know that it is possible to leave an abusive situation and that they can overcome the trauma that follows. Honoring youth voices is a way to advocate because their stories mourn victims and celebrate survivors.

Build community engagement

Unfortunately, TDV is a common occurrence, but everyone has the ability to join together for a national effort to raise awareness of teen dating violence. Teachers, counselors, parents, and friends of victims can recognize the signs and help the abused youth seek help. Building community engagement whether it is in person or on social media, can change the outcome for potential victims. Together we can raise awareness about TDV and promote safe, healthy relationships. Understanding what TDV is and what it means for those who are involved is an important first step in prevention.

Address intersections of violence 

Many teen relationships are characterized as unhealthy or violent contributing to 1.5 million who suffer from dating abuse by an intimate partner. Romantic relationships are happening in teens as young as 12 or 13. Dating violence can turn violent when teens do not understand how to communicate their feelings effectively, are suffering from depression or anxiety, are being peer pressured, or when drugs and alcohol are introduced. The fourth way to advocate for TDV is to address all intersections of violence. This means talking about all things TDV in order to see action and change. We need to talk about the facts and the stats. 

Watch staff from Lone Star Legal Aid discuss TDV and domestic violence with our community partner, Christina Allen, CEO of FamilyTime Crisis and Counseling Center. 

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If you or a loved one are a victim and need assistance, you can apply for free legal services by calling 1-800-733-8394 or by visiting our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.  For more resources, visit the Texas Crime Victim Legal Assistance Network.

Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at http://www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: media@lonestarlegal.org