February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
Here at YWCA Northeast Indiana, we are strong believers in the powerful role that awareness and education play in prevention. This is why we urge you to take a proactive stance during the month of February, and to engage your students and educate them about what teen dating violence looks like and the dangers associated with it.
Download our 2024 TDVAM Toolkit
In Indiana and Allen County, sexual violence intersects with dating violence and is a pressing concern for many young people, especially young women. The Women’s Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne completed a study in 2020 that conducted three focus groups with young women and girls aged 12–24 to conduct research for the Young Women and Girls Report:
- “We learned to ‘just say no and they will stop,’ but that is not at all true.”
- “I was pressured into having sex as a freshman. I felt powerless. I felt frozen. When I finally told my parents, my mom made it seem like it was my fault.”
- 15% felt pressured to have sex
In response to the question, “What keeps you up at night?” many of the young women and girls surveyed indicated safety concerns:
- Fear of sexual assault
- Being victimized by men/boys
- Male gaze and attention
- Feeling shame over male behavior towards themselves
Physical safety, including not feeling safe at home, was identified in multiple areas of the study by the young women and girls. One in 10 Indiana students report being physically harmed by a romantic partner, and 10% of Indiana teens indicated being forced to have sex against their will on a survey (Domestic Violence Network 2020). Furthermore, Indiana ranks fourth highest in the nation for rape of high school girls (ICESAHT 2019) and is the third highest out of thirty states with the highest percentage of high school students reporting experiencing sexual dating violence over a twelve month period (Domestic Violence Network 2022). Out of Indiana women who have experienced a completed rape, 50% were raped before the age of 18 (National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, state reports 2010-2022).
The 2023 Indiana Youth Institute KidsCount Databook reports similar statistics, and includes that following additional pieces of research:
- In 2021, about 27% of high school students in Indiana reported that someone they were dating tried to control them or emotionally hurt them.
- 8% of students reported experiencing sexual dating violence
- 9% of students reported experiencing physical dating violence
Youth Education Programs
Our Community Educators present to youth in elementary, middle, and high schools on various topics including healthy relationships and bullying.
In 2023, we presented to 6,258 youth and 95% of participants who completed surveys reported an increase in knowledge.
YWCA’s Week of Empowering Love
YWCA Northeast Indiana invites you to participate in our Week of Empowering Love! Join us February 12th-16th as we share ideas and resources to promote healthy relationships amongst teens. Learn more below and find additional action items in our toolkit.
February 12th - Speak Up Day
1 in 3 teens in the US have experienced some type of abuse in their relationships with a significant other. On this day we encourage youth to speak up about who they are! Create healthy boundaries and speak up about what you deserve and expect in your relationships.
February 13th - Focus on Safety
Now is the time to shine a spotlight on resources, tools, and people our youth can turn to for help. A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that can help you avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when you’re in danger. If you’re experiencing abuse or are in an unhealthy relationship, creating a safety plan can be very helpful.
February 14th - Celebrate Healthy Love
Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is not only a day to celebrate romantic love between couples, but also embrace healthy relationships between friends and family. Send a loving text message or snapchat, or write a nice note on a post-it and put it on someone’s locker or desk. Take some time today to celebrate the healthy qualities of your relationships. Know that you deserve to be loved and respected in every relationship!
February 15th - Self Care Day
Use today to empower yourself and do what makes you happy. Maybe you can watch a movie with a friend and eat some snacks. You could try a new workout regimen or cook a new recipe. Just make sure to take some time out of the day to take care of yourself.
February 16th - Wear Orange for Love
Orange for Love day is a day in which we wear orange to raise awareness of teen dating violence. Think about the reason you’re wearing orange. Post a photo of you wearing orange on social media and finish the sentence, “I wear orange because…” and use the hashtags #Orange4Love, #teenDVmonth, and #loveisrespect. Most importantly remember, Love is respect, not abuse!