By SDCN Editor
San Diego, CA–For the second consecutive year at dusk on Wednesday, the San Diego County Administration Center Building will glow orange under the evening sky to bring awareness to the widespread and serious effects of teen dating violence.
With 1 in 3 teens who have been in a relationship experiencing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, a heavy toll is taken on the well-being of young people. Teen dating violence leads to an increased incidence of eating disorders, higher rates of anxiety and depression, and an increased risk of self-harm.
Speaking at a 2021 event to honor the lives lost in San Diego County to intimate partner violence, Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County’s Public Health Officer since 2007, said, “Without appropriate services and support, the consequences of violence and abuse can last a lifetime—leading to disease, disability, and social problems, as well as early death.”
Early death, by either strangulation or suicide, is unfortunately a realistic consequence of teen dating violence. The Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie case brought national attention to relationship violence in 2021. High school sweethearts, Petito was strangled by Laundrie after a violent argument in a parking lot in Moab, Utah and later killed by him, again by strangulation.
“Once strangulation is introduced by the perpetrator in a domestic violence relationship, the risk of lethality increases for the victim by 700%,” says Claudia Grasso, president of the San Diego Domestic Violence Council.
Despite the prevalence of teen dating violence, few families ever discuss relationship abuse with their teens. In fact, 74% of boys and 66% of girls report not having conversations with their parents about dating or relationships. With a disconnect between widespread violence and lack of family communication on the topic, raising public awareness is a top priority for the council.
Due to the increase in digital communication, the gateway is wide open for abuse perpetrated underneath the radar of the trusted adults that advise youth. In fact, 1 in 4 of all teens are harassed through technology. But no family needs to feel alone when opening the communication lines about relationships. The council recommends national resources to help start the conversation including LoveIsRespect.org and JoinOneLove.org. Local resources such as One Safe Place, The North County Family Justice Center in San Marcos, and Community Resource Center in Encinitas also offer support.
“Together we can intervene and prevent teen dating violence,” says Luis Canseco Garcia of CRC and chair of the Council’s Teen Dating Violence Committee.