February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
The Family Counseling Center of Fulton County and the Domestic Violence Program of Fulton County, are promoting the nationally recognized Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month over the course of February. Created by Congress in 2010, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is meant to promote and educate teens and young adults about what healthy relationships look like, the warning signs of abuse, and encourage dialogue between adults and the children in their lives about respect in personal relationships.
Throughout the month, the Domestic Violence Program, a part of The Family Counseling Center, will be conducting outreach and education presentations to local schools. “We offer presentations to area schools throughout the year,” says Amanda Anderson, Director of the Domestic Violence Program of Fulton County. “When we present, we focus on a few things. First, that abuse is much more than physical hitting. Second, we give strong examples of what is and is not a healthy relationship.”
On February 6, 2024 the agency will be celebrating Wear Orange Day, an opportunity to recognize the survivors of Teen Dating Violence and show support for healthy relationships. In honor of Wear Orange Day and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, the Domestic Violence Program and The Family Counseling Center conducted a county-wide t-shirt design competition for school-aged artists. Submissions are due today, February 6th. Full details are available on The Family Counseling Center’s Facebook page.
In addition, this year the Domestic Violence Program is promoting the theme that Not All Abuse is Physical which includes a concerted effort to educate the communities of Fulton County about the lesser known, but far too prevalent, forms of domestic abuse. “We see so many clients coming to us saying ‘But they never hit me,’” notes Amanda Anderson, Director of the Domestic Violence Program. “The truth is that abuse is much more often emotional or verbal, and we are seeing more and more financial abuse happening in relationships. The physical act of violence may never happen or happens in an environment where these other forms of abuse have been present for a while.”
Parents and the important adults in a youth’s life play a vital role in helping teens begin to navigate and learn what healthy relationships look like. It is important to communicate with teens that healthy relationships include essential elements such as respect, communication, trust, boundaries, honesty, and equality.
“We try to focus on healthy relationships in our talks to teens and school groups,” says Anderson. “Healthy relationships mean that both individuals can communicate fully with one another, treat each other with respect, are trusting and honest, meet one another on equal footing, are able to enjoy personal time away from each other, make mutual choices when necessary, and share economic responsibilities equally.”