Story by: Noelle Forde

Shocking statistics, one in four women and one in seven men will be the victim of domestic abuse according to the CDC. A reason why February is teen dating violence awareness month.

Domestic abuse experts and parents both say it’s important to educate teens about what is and isn’t a healthy relationship.

“We just always try to talk to our kids about who they are and what their identity is and how important and special they are so that they’re confident in themselves so that they’re gonna notice the signs of relationships that are not gonna be healthy or good for them,” says Jessica Garner, a parent.

Vicki Smith, the Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition against Domestic Violence says many teens may not even realize they’re in an abusive relationship. Most of the time this abuse isn’t physical, it’s emotional.

“If someone is constantly texting you where are you, what are you doing. Why aren’t you answering me, No matter what time of day or night. It’s constant it’s chronic. That’s a controlling behavior that can become abusive,” says Vicki Smith, the Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition against Domestic Violence.

Smith feels teens need to know the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.

“It’s important for us to better understand domestic violence doesn’t start when you turn 20. It starts when you’re much younger and beginning to interact with others in more social environments. So, it’s critical that we start talking,” says Smith.

Both parents and teens say it’s important to raise awareness about this.

“I think it’s really important for society or social media, maybe your family or friends to like build up what’s important in healthy relationships and what that looks like,” says Nyah Garner, a teenager.

“Not everybody has similar situations similar backgrounds so people need to be aware, not even for yourself but to watch out for friends family just people around you,” says Garner.

The National Domestic Violence hotline is 800-799-7233.

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