Teen Dating Violence: A health concern for everyone

Teen Dating Violence: A health concern for everyone

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month and it’s more common than parents, teachers, and even teens may realize. The lines between affection and aggression can become blurred when issues like control, jealousy, and fear enter the relationship.   

In the last year, approximately 1 in 11 females and 1 in 15 male high school students encountered physical dating violence, while 1 in 9 females and 1 in 36 male high school students encountered sexual dating violence.  

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, teen dating violence is defined as the power and control someone uses against their partner. These may include physical, sexual, psychological, and technological assault tactics.   

“Healthy relationships are built upon respect, trust, communication, support, and honesty. Unfortunately, this is not always where relationships begin or end,” says Nicole Baselj, MSN, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P, Unit Director, Forensic Nursing Program with UPMC in Central Pa. 


A Resource for Healing 

The Forensic Nursing Program at UPMC in Central Pa. is currently the only one in the region that covers seven county hospitals, serving victims of sexual violence or assault 24/7, 365 days a year.  

A Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE), also known as Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE), is a registered nurse with specialized education and training in the care of sexual violence patients.   

According to Nicole, the program is the only full-time mobile unit designed to make an easy connection to provide trauma-informed care, meeting patients where they are located.  

“Individuals should not have to travel to multiple locations to seek help following a violent or sexual assault including physical and sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, non-fatal strangulation, and human trafficking.”   


Know the Red Flags 

Often, teens confuse control for caring. Recognizing the signs of trouble shouldn’t be ignored.   

Does your partner:  

  • slap, hit, kick, or punch you? 
  • follow you physically or stalk you on social media? 
  • harass you with repeated phone calls or text messages? 
  • call you names, threaten to expose or harm you? 
  • tell you what to wear, say, or do? 
  • force unwanted sexual encounters or acts? 
  • threaten to harm themselves if you break up?

For more information, visit UPMC.com/CentralPaSAFE 








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