February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. Teen dating violence is a type of intimate partner violence that occurs between two teen-aged persons in a close relationship. Teen dating violence can include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking.
1. Physical Violence – physical violence occurs when a person causes or attempts to cause physical harm to another. This can include hitting, kicking, or other types of physical force such as the throwing of objects.
2. Sexual Violence – sexual violence can occur when a person forces or attempts to force another person to engage in a sexual act. This can occur by engaging in sexual conduct or engaging in sexual touching. The conduct does not need to be forceful, it can also include engaging in sexual acts while the victim is under the influence of alcohol or drugs or unaware the act is occurring. Sexual violence can even include the unwanted sharing of nudity-oriented photographs or photographs of a sexual nature.
3. Psychological Aggression – psychological aggression can be the use of verbal or non-verbal communication with the intent to harm another person mentally or emotionally and/or exert control of another person.
4. Stalking – stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a partner that causes fear or concern for one’s own safety or the safety of another.
Physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking are all violations of Ohio’s criminal law and can be prosecuted. All violations carry significant penalties.
The impacts of teen dating violence can be severe and long-lasting. Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to have symptoms of depression and anxiety; are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as the use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs; are more likely to exhibit antisocial behaviors such as lying, theft, bullying, or assault; and are more likely to entertain thoughts of suicide. Victims of teen dating violence also are at risk of a lifetime of future victimization.
We at the Fayette County Prosecutor’s Office and our Victim Witness Division encourage the development of healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships. We encourage parents to work with their children from a young age to promote the skills needed to maintain healthy and positive relationships, such as how to appropriately manage feelings and how to communicate in healthy ways.
If you believe your teenager may be the victim of teen dating violence please contact the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office at 740-335-6170 or the Washington Court House Police Department at 740-636-2370 to open a formal investigation.
For more information on teen dating violence please contact the Fayette County Prosecutor’s office Victim Witness Division at 740-335-0888.
*Information for this article was obtained through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.