Love Like That

Yocelin Clayborn

Did you know that February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM)? The goal of TDVAM, declared by Congress in 2010, is to amplify awareness of what is unhealthy and often abusive while uplifting what is healthy. (1)  Ray of Hope’s hope for this February is to unite with teens, young adults, and the community to spotlight the actual harm that can result from unhealthy relationships.

Much like adult intimate partner violence, Teen Dating Violence manifests in various forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and online abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 1 in 11 female and approximately 1 in 15 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year. The numbers are even more concerning when it comes to emotional abuse, with about 1 in 8 female and 1 in 26 male high school students reporting such experiences. When accessing the digital front, young people under 30 are more likely to witness online abuse, with about 70% of young adults having experienced some form of online harassment or abuse. (2 & 3).

The impact of dating violence during the teen years is profound and far-reaching. A study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that teens who experienced dating violence were more likely to report symptoms of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. (4) A study from The National Institute of Justice states that teens who experience dating violence are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as substance abuse and unhealthy sexual behaviors, in adulthood. (5) These side effects should compel us to end the cycle! We must impart to teens and young adults that while no relationship is perfect, love is RESPECT.

Combating teen dating violence requires a multi-faceted approach. Education is key. Schools and communities need to provide comprehensive education about healthy relationships and the warning signs of abuse. That is where One Love and Ray of Hope can help.  Here at ROH, we have certified staff in the One Love curriculum. You can learn more about One Love’s curriculum by visiting Parents are always welcome to attend these sessions; parents play a vital role in educating and supporting their teens. Through our training, we hope to help teens identify their support systems, create a safe space for teens to talk about their experiences, and seek help if needed. Encouraging open communication, teaching them about respect and consent in relationships, and giving teens and parents alike the verbiage to name unhealthy behaviors can help protect our youth and foster healthier relationships for future generations.

We hope you will join us in our efforts to have the hard conversations this month. We also invite you to join us on our Facebook page, Ray of Hope Advocacy Center, for the month of February to see our TDVAM Friday post and to participate by sharing your own post that expresses love in a healthy way by tagging us and using the hashtag #LoveLikeThat.

  1. Search Our Resources. The Hotline. (2020, December 21).
  2. CDC. “Preventing Teen Dating Violence.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 Feb. 2022,
  3. Love Like That Love Is Respect | Action Guide 2024 TDVAM.
  4. Bell, T.L., Bailey, R.K. (2021). Teen Dating Violence. In: Bailey, R.K. (eds) Intimate Partner Violence. Springer, Cham.
  5. “What Has Longitudinal Research on Teen Dating Violence Taught Us?” National Institute of Justice, 27 July 2023,

This article originally appeared in the February issue of Bartlesville Living magazine.