Posted by 2015 – 2016 TeenSafe Peer Leaders Devin, Yael, Olivia, and Rachel

JF&CS Journey to Safety's TeenSafe‬ is raising awareness about teen dating abuse during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month this February. Check out our campaign on Twitter and become part of the conversation by using ‪#‎teenDVmonth‬ and ‪#‎LoveShouldBeSafe‬.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Dear Future Daters,

When you first think about the month of February, chocolate boxes and roses probably fill your imagination; but did you know that February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month? What does that mean? Well, love does not only have ups like Valentine's Day makes it seem. There are many complicated sides to love and relationships. How do we know this? We are TeenSafe, a group of peer leaders that works to prevent dating abuse in the Jewish community and beyond. We focus on many aspects of dating, including healthy and unhealthy behaviors, expectations, and how to help those experiencing dating abuse.

So, why are we writing to you? Well, we are sure that if you ask a survivor of dating abuse they would say that they wished they knew more about this topic before beginning to date. In reaching out to you, we hope to eliminate the likelihood of dating abuse in our generation.

We won't overwhelm you with facts and figures, but it is important that you remember these few things.

  • If you think about your relationships with your friends and family members, you have certain expectations for how they should treat you, right? You expect them to be honest with you, respectful of you, and supportive. Romantic relationships are really not much different in that sense! For example, if your friend said or did something that hurt your feelings, you would have a conversation with them about how you're feeling (hopefully). If you don't feel your dating partner will listen to how you're feeling, that may be a problem. If they do listen then that will help both of you to adjust your behavior and have a healthier relationship.
  • If you talk to your partner about the things that are bothering you and nothing changes, consider rethinking the relationship. You might still really care about this person, but accepting something annoying or hurtful that your partner is doing and letting it become a "new norm" in your relationship can pave the way for you to have less control.
  • When first meeting a possible partner, take note of how they handle frustration and/or anger. Say you went out to dinner for a date and the waiter forgot to bring the check. If he/she shows signs of aggression because of the waiter's simple mistake, it is good to keep that in the back of your mind for the future.
  • When in a relationship, you may spend the majority of your free time with your partner and likely there is a constant stream of talking and texting when not together. This intense communication can be taken too far. If your partner constantly wants to know your whereabouts and is always calling or texting you when you aren't together, it is important to discuss this and find a balance between him/her and others in your life. Listen to your friends or family members if they are worried about this.
  • Abuse is not limited to physical or verbal actions. A pattern of controlling behavior in a relationship is considered abuse. If your partner is limiting you or making you uncomfortable in any way, you have to assess the situation and ask yourself if you are changing who you are to be with him/her.

Hopefully, these tips were helpful and don't scare you away from dating. Relationships are great to have, but it is important to be prepared before taking this big step in your life! Next time you meet someone that you hit it off with, think back to when you read this letter and recognize possible red flags that will help guide you.

(Safe) Love always,

Devin, Yael, Olivia, and Rachel
2015 – 2016 TeenSafe Peer Leaders