Teen relationships aren’t just about “puppy love.” Dating during adolescence can leave a lasting impact on one’s life, especially if a dating relationship is darkened by violence and abuse.
In the first article of a series on February’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, I provided information about the awareness month and defined what teen dating violence is.
Click here to read National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month: Part 1.
This second article will discuss the role mental health has to play in the relationship between perpetrator and victim, and mental health consequences of dating violence.
Elizabeth Waterman, a licensed clinical psychologist, said in an email that victims of dating violence are potentially at risk for many mental health issues.
“Victims are more likely to become depressed, perform worse in school, develop eating disorders, and are at higher risk for violent relationships in college compared to those who are never in violent teen relationships,” Waterman said.
“In addition, those in abusive relationships can develop low self-esteem and dependency issues that will continue if not altered with corrective, healthy relationships.”
Sheela Raja, a clinical psychologist, added in an email that in a short time period, girls can develop very low self-esteem.
“In the [long-term, dating violence] can lead to anxiety, depression, substance use, and other negative ways of coping with these feelings,” Raja said.
“For example, girls with a history of violence are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol and use food to cope. So mental and physical health are connected.”
Joy Tanimura Winquist, a social worker, said in an email that warning signs of someone being abused in a teen dating relationship include mental health issues like depression and anxiety, which also happen to be effects of dating violence.
“Dating violence can be very detrimental on the mental health of a teen victim,” Tanimura Winquist said.