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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Dating and romantic relationships mean making oneself vulnerable emotionally.

Unfortunately, that also can result in being vulnerable to abuse, including significant and long-lasting trauma.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is urging all Michiganders to educate themselves, their families and communities about this danger by proclaiming February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

During this month, Michiganders are encouraged to learn more about the signs of dating violence and how to empower and support victims.

Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year, yet only 33 percent of victims ever disclose the abuse. Forty-three percent of college women and 28 percent of college men report experiencing either abuse or controlling behaviors in a dating relationship.

“As a mom of two teenage girls, nothing is more important to me than their safety,” Whitmer said. “Raising awareness about teen dating violence will help my girls and young Michiganders everywhere. Victims of dating violence need to know that they’re not alone, that they are believed and that there are resources available to help them. The Division of Victim Services within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is among the important advocates for victims.”

Dating violence perpetrators intentionally use a pattern of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and/or economic coercion and abuse to control their partners. Violence in dating relationships can affect anyone, regardless of religion, culture, gender, sexuality, economic or social status.

“We can all play a role in ending teen dating violence by educating ourselves, empowering young people to develop healthy relationships and developing better supportive services,” said Debi Cain, executive director of the MDHHS Division of Victim Services.

Those either in an abusive relationship or know someone who is can call the Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522. To find a local domestic violence or sexual assault program provider, go to the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence provider directory.

LGBTQ+ youth in crisis also can reach out to The Trevor Project 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 or text/chat at www.thetrevorproject.org/help.

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