Each February, love is respect, along with other organizations, celebrates and acknowledges Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, or TDVAM. This year’s theme was Talk About It , a call to action for young people and those who support them to engage in meaningful conversations about healthy relationships and learn how to navigate what could be unhealthy or abusive. We covered a great deal of ground for one month, and it was clear that people wanted to continue the conversation. We had some unanswered questions about our polls shared on love is respect s’ social media during February, as well as questions in our Instagram Lives that we wanted to follow up on.
- How do you know if it's too much love? When should someone share a lot of love?
This is a great question from our Instagram Live. It’s great to show love and affection in your relationship, but excessive affection sometimes crosses boundaries. Love bombing involves showering someone with love, attention, and affection before the feelings are genuine. It could look like complimenting you so much that it feels excessive or not natural or maybe the relationship is progressing much faster than your comfort level allows. Showering you with expensive gifts, wanting all your time, calling or texting too much, or calling you their soulmate early in the relationship could all be signs of love bombing. You will be the best judge of what feels like too much, but it is important to make sure there are boundaries in place and the other person is respectful of your boundaries.
- What tips do you have for healing after leaving an unhealthy relationship?
This is another important question from our Instagram Live series. Leaving any relationship is difficult, but it is especially difficult to leave an unhealthy or abusive one. When someone leaves an unhealthy or abusive relationship, they can experience residual trauma and feelings that they will need to process and work through. There are several steps that can help as someone works to heal. Things like individual counseling or support groups, a good self-care routine, using art or journaling to process feelings and giving yourself time to heal can be helpful tools. There is no time limit to how long it takes to heal after that kind of trauma, so have patience with yourself.
- What abuse types do you feel youth and young people are dealing with today?
This was the first poll we did for TVDAM. The answer is all types of abuse! The majority of y’all knew that youth and young adults can experience all the different types of abuse . These are experiences that anyone, regardless of age, can unfortunately experience. It is important to recognize the different types of abuse, so you can help someone who may be unsure if abuse is happening or not.
- Who can be abusive?
Our second poll question was focused on who can choose to abuse their partner. We know that anyone can choose to abuse their partner, regardless of their gender identity. Abuse is based on power & control and is a choice someone makes . While women, especially women of color, experience abuse at higher rates than others, anyone can experience abuse. Men and members of the LGBTQ+ community may face added barriers to getting support though.
- What are the best ways to support someone who is experiencing abuse?
Our third and final poll asked how you could support someone who is experiencing abuse. There are many ways to support someone who is experiencing abuse. You can let them know you are there to talk if they need you or share information about healthy relationships with them. You can also support them by helping document the abuse or safety planning if they wish to leave. Another easy way to help is sharing contact information for love is respect with them and letting them know we’re available 24/7.
- What organizations are on the Teen Domestic Violence Awareness Month Advisory Group?
We had some great organizations that helped us plan out TDVAM. These are the organizations that were part of our advisory group, as well as members of our Youth Council .
- OneLove Foundation: https://www.joinonelove.org/
- StrongHearts Native Helpline: https://strongheartshelpline.org/
- Esperanza United: https://esperanzaunited.org/en/
- Diamond Diva Empowerment Foundation: https://www.2def.org/
While TDVAM is recognized during the month of February, we know that the work to end relationship abuse is year-round. There is never a wrong time to talk about healthy relationships, whether it is with friends, family, or at your school. If we #TalkAboutIt we can work together to prevent and end abusive relationships for youth and young adults. love is respect is available via chat, text, and phone 24/7/365 to share information about healthy or unhealthy relationships, as well as connect you to local support services, counseling resources, provide tips for healing, and help you develop a safety plan that works for you if needed.