Research tells us that our relationships affect our health. A 2013 survey done by the Iowa Department of Public Health found that adults who experienced abuse or other adverse experiences growing up were up to four times more likely to develop certain chronic conditions than people who did not have those experiences. “A recent study on brain development demonstrates that children exposed to violence at home undergo changes in the brain that affect their development,” said Gretchen Hageman, Chief of IDPH’s Bureau of Family Health. “Toxic stress disrupts our ability to develop and maintain healthy, nurturing relationships.”
Adolescence and young adulthood are important times for people to develop relationship skills. In recognition of Valentine’s Day and February’s Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month, IDPH is promoting the importance of healthy relationships.
Nationally, 1 in 3 adolescents report they have been a victim of dating violence. An unhealthy relationship for teens and young adults can exhibit the following warning signs:
- A dating partner wants to "keep tabs" on the other person at all times.
- The partner may try to control who the other person spends time with, what they wear, and where they go.
- A dating partner may put the other person down frequently.
- The partner may threaten self-harm or to hurt the other person if the other does not do what the partner wants.
In contrast, a healthy dating relationship involves mutual respect, give and take, and time for each person to hang out with friends or do their own activities. In healthy relationships, people communicate to solve their conflicts without relying on arguments, fights, threats, or violence.
Valentine’s Day is not only a good opportunity to give flowers or candy to someone you love, but it is also a great time to talk with them about healthy relationships.
For more information on healthy relationships among teens, visit:
For more information on the Adverse Childhood Experiences report, visit:
If you or someone you know has a question about a relationship, healthy or unhealthy, visit www.loveisrespect.org or text "loveis" to 22522.