Jacobs proclaims February ‘Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month’ in Cullman

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Pictured left to right are Gwen Parker, Lacey Lemley, Mayor Woody Jacobs and Jessica Atchley. (Leanne West)

CULLMAN, Ala- Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs on Tuesday, Feb. 6, proclaimed the month of February 2024 “Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month” (TDVAM) in the city of Cullman. On hand to accept the official proclamation from Victim Services of Cullman were Jessica Atchley (interim executive director), Lacey Lemley (outreach advocate) and Gwen Parker (board president).

“We appreciate Victim Services for addressing the issue of teen dating violence,” said Jacobs. “Helping young people learn how to avoid unhealthy or abusive relationships will benefit them greatly throughout their lives.”

Dating violence is very common, especially among teens and young adults. Studies show that one in three teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse from someone they’re in a relationship with before they become adults, and nearly half of college women report experiencing violent or abusive dating behaviors. 

The month of February is set aside across the country as a time to raise awareness about the issue of teen dating violence through TDVAM. The focus of TDVAM is on advocacy and education to stop dating abuse before it starts. The theme for TDVAM 2024 is “Love Like That.” The “Love Like That” theme illuminates what “that” means regarding healthy and unhealthy relationships. 

The Office of Family Violence Prevention and Services, an office of the Administration for Children & Families (ACF), has a Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Action Guide. That action guide, which can be downloaded at www.acf.hhs.gov/ofvps, contains helpful information and guidance on personal boundaries, self-care and self-love, consent, trust and honesty, conflict resolution, open communication and more.

The website www.loveisrespect.org is an inclusive space where young people can access information and get support in an environment designed specifically for teens and young adults. Loveisrespect.org also shares the following tips on how to tell if a relationship is healthy, unhealthy or abusive. 

A healthy relationship means both you and your partner are:

  • Communicating
  • Respectful
  • Trusting
  • Honest
  • Equal
  • Enjoying personal time away from each other
  • Making mutual choices
  • Economic/financial partners

You may be in an unhealthy relationship if your partner is:

  • Not communicating
  • Disrespectful
  • Not trusting
  • Dishonest
  • Trying to take control
  • Only spending time together
  • Pressured into activities
  • Unequal economically

Abuse is occurring in a relationship when one partner is:

  • Communicating in a hurtful or threatening way
  • Mistreating
  • Accusing the other of cheating when it’s untrue
  • Denying their actions are abusive
  • Controlling
  • Isolating their partner from others

Teens who find themselves in unhealthy or abusive dating relationships have a place to turn to for help. The Teen Dating Abuse Hotline is 866-331-9474. They can also go to the website loveisrespect.org to text, call or chat with someone who can help. The site also has many resources regarding dating, healthy relationships, personal safety and more.

To find out more about Victim Services of Cullman, Inc., visit www.victimservices.online or call 256-775-2600.

To find out more about TDVAM, visit loveinrespect.org or call the administrative line at 737-225-3150.

Are you a teen in an unhealthy or abusive dating relationship who needs help now? Call 1-866-331-9474 or text LOVEIS to 22522 or visit loveisrespect.org to chat with someone now.