(WAFF) - February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and with 1 in 3 teens having experienced some form of dating violence, it’s no doubt this is a prevalent issue.
“Everybody looks forward to that first love,” says Alissa Lapidus, owner of Empower Behavioral Health. "In the beginning, it’s such a rush, it’s such a fantastic feeling... and then I think a lot of times, a lot of denial can set in.”
Lapidus says the abuse may start small.
“It really is about control and power, and so, I think it starts out maybe as jealousy. ‘I don’t want you talking to him, or I don’t want you talking to her,' and it grows into ‘I thought I told you not to do that.’”
Over time, the abuse can become more severe and more repetitive.
“There’s a cycle of abuse when it comes to domestic abuse... It starts out -- things are pretty calm, tensions build, there’s a violent event, then there’s a honeymoon period with a lot of I’m sorrys and flowers and I love yous.”
To address this issue, parents are advised to get to know who their child is dating early.
“From the time kids are very young, maybe rules should be established around dating -- that anyone you date has to come home, spend some time at the house... I think that that can help you spot the signs sooner.”
The biggest thing -- remind your kids how valuable they are.
“I think it’s key, first of all, to know what a healthy relationship looks like... and I think kids ought to really know their worth and know how they want to be treated.”