By Isabela Baca

When talking about teen dating violence, I keep hearing statements like “It’s normal, everyone does it” and “It’s a new generation, don’t be too reserved.” However, I believe it is important to know how to thrive in a healthy relationship, and most importantly know how to respect oneself.

Isabela Baca

I have always been a strong believer that one’s respect and one’s love comes first in a healthy relationship. The EmpOURment Project at the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence has allowed me to strengthen that thought, create an impact on the community, and help guide the youth. I consider teen dating violence prevention a topic that should be talked about and, most importantly, understood.

Today, as teenagers, most of the time we feel misunderstood because of the extensive amounts of feelings we may experience at once. Who is there to guide us? How do teenagers recognize the boundaries of a healthy relationship? This is why I consider this topic important, because there are so many teenagers, both men and women, who may feel confused or even concerned about their relationships.

Many people may think, “address the problem with your significant other,” but there are situations when addressing the problem with your significant other creates another violent situation, and external help is needed. 

During the pandemic, everything is more complicated, and reaching out for help can be quite scary at times. Nonetheless, teen dating violence is a situation to look out for.

I also believe that my generation has different insights about being in a relationship. Something that today is looked at as “normal” might have been considered “unfair” or “unrespectful” 20 years ago. But what is today’s “normal?”

I consider that before getting into a relationship. You have to be happy with the other person’s way of treating you, and most importantly how he or she may treat the people in their life. Create the boundaries from the beginning, and let your significant other know that there is consent in every situation. 

Dating makes consent no different. Living in a new generation does not change the respect a person deserves; it does not change the importance of a person’s voice to be heard.

Isabela Baca is a senior at Loretto Academy and a volunteer with the EmpOURment Project at El Paso’s Center Against Sexual and Family Violence.

Cover illustration courtesy of Becky’s Fund.