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Recognizing National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month

Photo Credit: Love Is Respect

In the U.S. nearly 1.5 million girls and boys in high school have admitted to being physically abused by someone they are intimately involved with in the last year. For Native American youth, more than 40% of them have experienced two or more acts of violence by the age of 18. We also know Native American women in the United States experience the highest rates of sexual assault in the country. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, nearly half of all Native American women have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner; one in three will be raped in their lifetime; and on some reservations, women are murdered at a rate 10 times higher than the national average . In Native communities 64% of suicides are committed by Native American youth ages 10-24 years old. 

All the static’s above are important data that can help us to address Teen Dating Violence so we as people can help youth understand what dating violence is and what it leads up to. Dating violence is about power and control, and it’s about making a choice to control their partners everyday activity. Teen Dating Violence is defined as any dating relationship in adolescents that results in physical, sexual, psychological/emotional abuse in the relationship. An abusive partner will think that they have every right to control their partners everyday life from what they do, who they see and how they behave. This is how they maintain power and control over their partner. 

Teen dating violence can involve one or more types of abuse, such as:

  • Physical abuse: It can include slapping, kicking, strangling, or punching, threats of violence or throwing items. 
  • Emotional Abuse: Some abusive partners may use emotional abuse to hurt their partners. This can include name-calling or using slurs or hurtful stereotypes to put you down. Emotional abuse can include when a dating partner isolates you from family or friends or makes all the decisions in the relationship. They may even blame you for their abusive behavior or deny it completely, a tactic called gaslighting.
  • Cultural/Spiritual Abuse: Cultural and spiritual abuse can be some of the most harmful forms of dating violence. This can look like when a romantic partner criticizes or punishes you for your cultural traditions or beliefs, tells you that you’re “too Indian” or “not Native enough,” or makes jokes about your blood quantum or tribe.
  • Sexual Abuse: Some abusive relationships can include sexual abuse. This can look like when your partner pressures you to have sex or demands that you share sexually explicit photos or videos with them. Anytime a dating partner forces or coerces you into sexual activities without your consent, that is sexual assault, and it is never okay.
  • Digital Abuse: In some relationships, social media is being used to hurt dating partners online. The signs of digital abuse can include when a partner tags you in humiliating photos, reveals private or embarrassing information about you, or tracks where you go and what you do online. Some abusive partners may even tell you who you can or cannot be friends with on Facebook or other accounts, or demand to know your social media or phone passwords. An abusive partner may also use their cell phones to repeatedly call, text, or leave messages just to “check-in” – all of which are types of digital abuse. 

It is important that we know what to look for in a young person’s relationship because what may look like an unhealthy relationship to you won’t look like that to the victim. This is because their perpetrator will manipulate them into thinking this is how a relationship works. Early violence in adolescent relationships set the building blocks for an unhealthy lifestyle and future problems. This includes future relationship issues which can be intimate partner violence and sexual violence perpetration throughout life. In short if they experience this early, they run the risk of falling into a lifetime cycle of abuse. 


  • Adolescents can feel depression and anxiety.
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors like drugs and alcohol.
  • Experience suicidal thoughts. 

When you are in an abusive relationship, you may feel depressed, anxious, fearful, ashamed, or guilty. You may even feel you did something wrong to be treated bad, saying it was your fault and telling yourself and others that you deserved it. What every teen or young person needs to understand that no one deserves to be treated that way and it is not your fault. It is the one who is hurting you who is at fault. YOU deserve to be treated with love and respect. Remember love isn’t supposed to hurt. 


  • Teach safe and healthy relationship skills.
  • Promote social-emotional learning and health relationship programs. 
  • Engage influential adults and peers.
  • Family based programs.
  • Boys and Girls Club.
  • Disrupt the developmental pathway toward relationship violence.
  • Family engagement and preschool enrichment.
  • Parenting and family skill building classes.
  • Treatment for at risk youth, children, and families.
  • Create protective environments.
  • Improve school climate and safety
  • Modify the physical and social environments of neighborhoods.
  • Strengthen economic supports for families.
  • Strengthen household financial security and work family support systems. 
  • Support survivors to increase safety and lessen future harms.
  • Victim-centered services.
  • First responder and civil legal protections.
  • Treatment and support for survivors of IPV and TDV.
  • Housing programs and patient centered approaches. 

Teen dating violence can impact a young person’s life, from both sides as a victim and a perpetrator. The best way to prevent this lifestyle is to teach our young people about healthy relationships and what it looks like and helping them learn to express their emotions and communication skills in an effective way. You can also help with preventing this lifestyle by reaching out to your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or any young person in your life and talk to them about their relationships and helping them understand what to look for in an unhealthy relationship.

For the young people, remember that you should always feel respected and safe in your relationships and you deserve to have a healthy relationship. If you’re ever in a place you feel is unsafe or you know of someone that is in an unhealthy relationship, reach out to someone that you feel safe with or contact someone in your community that can help you. You are never alone in this situation and there are always resources and people out there to help you. 


Southern Ute Victim Services

Hours: Available 24/7

SUVS Office: 970-563-0245

After Hours Call Dispatch: 970-563-4401

Southern Ute Police Department

Hours: 8am – 5pm M-F

SUPD Office: 970-563-0246

SUPD Dispatch: 970-563-4401

Emergency Call: 911

Ignacio Out & Equal Alliance



Address: P.O Box 465 Ignacio, CO 81137

Phone number: 970-306-3555

Alternative Horizons



Administrative Office:  970-247-4374

24/7 Hotline:  970-247-9619

Sexual Assault Services Organization (SASO)



Ignacio: 970-563-0695

Durango: 970-259-3074

24/7 Crisis Hotline: 970-247-5400

Four Corners Rainbow Youth Center



Phone: 970-903-8595

Ignacio Police Department

IPD Office: 970-563-4206

Dispatch: 970-563-4401

Emergency Call: 911


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: Available 24 hours



StrongHearts Native Helpline

Is a safe domestic, dating and sexual violence helpline for American Indians and Alaska Natives, offering culturally appropriate support and advocacy, anonymous and confidential.

Hours: Daily, 7am-10pm CST



National Domestic Violence Hotline


Advocates are available 24/7

Call: 800-799-7233

Love Is Respect

They offer confidential support for teens, young adults, and their loved ones seeking help, resources, or information related to healthy relationships and dating abuse in the U.S.


Advocates are available 24/7

Text: LOVEIS to 22522

Call: 1-866-331-9474 or 800-787-3224

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