ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (Feb. 9, 2024) – In the United States, up to 19% of teens experience sexual or physical dating violence while about half face stalking or harassment, according to the American Psychological Association. February is observed as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and is spearheaded by The Office of Family Violence Prevention and Services.  

On Feb. 6, Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) faculty, staff and students participated in “Wear Orange For Love Day” to show solidarity and raise awareness about dating violence. Also in support of the month, and the many students who initially come to Viking Land as teens and young adults, Lucretia Banks, the ECSU Title IX coordinator and investigator, spoke with the Office of Communications and Marketing about how young people can identify abusive traits in a partner and how to seek help and safety.  

What is a sign that a young person is in an unhealthy or violent relationship? 

Statistics state 1 in 3 teens will experience physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse before becoming an adult. Here are some signs to recognize a teen is in an unhealthy or violent relationship: 

  • Withdrawing from family and friends  
  • Focusing all of their attention on one person 
  • Changes in attire, like wearing long sleeve clothes throughout the year that can hide bruises 

How and why are teens and young adults susceptible to unhealthy or violent relationships? 

Teens and young adults are susceptible to unhealthy relationships because of their lack of knowing what a healthy relationship looks like. For example, depending on their living environment, a teen may have experienced their parent or guardian participating in unhealthy and violent relationships. Or they may have a friend who is involved in dating violence and think it’s normal and perhaps live in a community with increased violence. Additionally, young people are impressionable and can adapt behaviors from reality television and social media platforms. Lastly, teens with low self-esteem or who struggle with depression are particularly vulnerable.  

As many as 65% of teens report being psychologically abused. How is that different from physical abuse? 

Physical abuse is often visible to others. A teen being psychologically abused may have some of the following experiences: 

  • Insults, name-calling, or embarrassment in public from a partner  
  • Being told what to do and how to do it 
  • Being isolated from family and friends 
  • Being called worthless and insulted 
  • Being constantly contacted for updates or location  
  • Accessing and stealing passwords to email and cell phone devices 
  • Threatening to expose secrets and private videos and photos 

What people and resources are available at ECSU for someone experiencing violence or mistreatment in a relationship? 

  • Lucretia Banks, The Office of Title IX, 252-335-3907  
  • Shante Thomas, PACE Center, 252-335-8535  
  • Latonia Johnson, Student Counseling Services, 252-335-3912   

If the parent of a student thinks their child is in a dangerous relationship, who should they contact on campus?  

Anyone concerned about another person who may be experiencing relationship violence should contact University Police at 252-335-3266 in addition to the resources previously mentioned. 

What events are happening on campus to support the month?  

What: “What’s Luv - A Love Language Discussion” 

Where: Ridley Student Center, Room 206 

When: Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 6 p.m.