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The Boulder County District Attorney’s Office prioritizes the safety and well-being of victims of intimate partner violence, and specifically, teen survivors of domestic violence. This month, the District Attorney’s Office wants to highlight this important issue and provide information about how to recognize and respond to teen dating violence. Intimate partner violence is a public health crisis and the young adults in our community are not immune from its devastating effects.
The Center for Disease Control reports that nearly 1 in 11 female high school students and 1 in 14 male students report having experienced physical dating violence in 2020. In addition to physical violence, our youth in dating relationships may be victimized by sexual violence, psychological manipulation and control, or be the target of stalking behavior. The effects of this abuse shape our youths’ perceptions of themselves, the choices they make, and the relationships they later pursue. It is imperative that our community remains vigilant about spotting and acting upon the warning signs of abuse.
Physical abuse is often accompanied by other forms of coercion and control by an intimate partner. Examples of coercive, controlling behavior may include extreme expressions of jealousy, isolating or “cutting off” a victim from their friends and family, monitoring a victim’s social media accounts and online activity, following a victim or showing up unexpectedly at social activities, and using demeaning and hurtful language followed an outpouring of love and affection. Offenders will often use threats of suicide, self-harm, or harm to a victim to convince a victim to stay in an unhealthy relationship.
A victim, especially a teen victim, may interpret this coercive, controlling behavior as flattering or evidence of their partner’s devotion or commitment to them. Alternatively, a victim may experience this behavior as threatening and scary. Both interpretations of an offender’s coercive, controlling conduct often leads a victim to decide not to talk about what is really going on in the relationship and possibly even to actively try to prevent others from learning what is actually going on.
In addition to the physical signs of abuse like unexplained bruising or other injuries, victims may display signs of depression or anxiety. Victims may spend less time with friends or family members. Victims may also become anxious and urgent about communicating with their partner above other priorities. Victims could be reluctant to talk about the relationship or may find ways to justify or minimize the unhealthy behavior.
Boulder County has a wide range of excellent resources available to victims of domestic violence and their loved ones. The District Attorney’s Office prioritizes the investigation and prosecution of domestic violence offenders and the safety of victims of intimate partner violence. Please reach out to our office or the community resources listed below for information and assistance.
- Blue Sky Bridge: 303-444-1388,
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
- Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA): 303-443-7300
- Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley: 303-772-4422
- Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN): 303-444-2424
- Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (264-5437)
- CU Boulder Office of Victim Assistance: 303-492-8855