Everyone deserves a healthy relationship founded on trust, honesty, respect, equality, and compromise. Youth and young adults must be guided and taught to build healthy relationships and identify unhealthy ones. This February, the Tennessee Department of Health is taking part in Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month to help prevent and bring awareness to dating violence among Tennessee teens.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one in 11 female and one in 14 male high school students reported having experienced physical dating violence in the past year. Twenty-six percent of women and 15 percent of men who report having experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, or stalking by a dating partner first experienced dating violence by that partner before age 18. In addition, certain groups such as sexual minority groups and racial and ethnic minorities are often disproportionality affected by dating violence.
Teen dating violence occurs when partners engage in abusive behavior to control or manipulate others. It can take place in person, online, or through technology. Teen dating violence can include the following types of behavior:
• Physical violence, such as hitting, kicking, or any other form of physical force
• Sexual violence, such as unwanted kissing, touching, or forced sexual activity
• Stalking, which is repeated, unwanted attention and contact that causes fear or concern for
• Psychological aggression, which is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication (e.g., namecalling,
insults, or threats) with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and/or
exert control over a partner
For more information about recognizing signs of abuse, please visit https://ncadv.org/signs-ofabuse.
“Teen dating violence impacts teens’ overall well-being,” said Tennessee’s Rape Prevention and Education Program Director Renea Satterwhite. “The upstream approaches in preventing teen dating violence involve teaching youth about healthy relationships and creating safe and protective environments.”
During Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, individuals are encouraged to Wear Orange for Love on Tuesday, February 8. By wearing orange and sharing a picture on social media with the hashtag #Orange4Love, Tennesseans can send a message that they stand with survivors of teen dating violence. Additionally, the Tennessee State Capitol will be illuminated orange in honor of the day. For more information about this observance, please visit
The TDH Rape Prevention and Education Program offers training and support for community agencies, schools, and sports teams to implement evidence-based prevention programs. Learn more at https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/rwh/rape-prevention-and-education.html.
If you are a survivor of sexual violence, you can find help and support in Tennessee at https://tncoalition.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/ or call the Statewide Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-866-811-7473.