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Dating Violence by Former High School Intern Swetha Upadrasta

by November 22, 2023 0

The Meaningful Movies Project screens films about topics ranging from climate change to mass incarceration to immigrant rights. At each event we try to provide a space for discussion, education and opportunities for action. We are now sharing articles on our MMP blog about some of the important issues that we focus on in our events. Today’s article is on domestic and sexual violence. MMP will be screening THE BYSTANDER MOMENT: TRANSFORMING RAPE CULTURE AND ITS ROOT this upcoming Monday, November 27th at 6 PM. With this film and discussion, we will look to address is serious but important topic. We hope that the following article and resources can help people learn about ways to prevent and heal from abuse.  


Victims of domestic violence face complex realities that cannot be easily labeled or categorized. The emotional and mental trauma they endure is something that can only be fully grasped by those who have experienced it firsthand.

Domestic violence is not limited to adult relationships but can also occur in teenage and adolescent relationships. Teen dating violence is a pattern of behaviors used to gain and maintain control over a current or previous dating partner. This type of abuse can take many forms, including financial abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and cyber/digital abuse. The wheel of power and control serves as a valuable guide for recognizing abusive behaviors in teen dating relationships. This tool outlines eight tactics that are often emotionally-based and ongoing, including threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, isolation, minimization, blame, and economic abuse.

Unfortunately, many teenagers believe that certain actions, such as name-calling and taunting, are “natural” aspects of a relationship. However, these actions have the potential to escalate into violent and abusive behavior. For example, many invasions of privacy through technology, such as reading private messages and monitoring social media accounts, have become normalized within relationships. These abusive relationships can have severe consequences for teenagers, leading to depression, anxiety, and alcohol or drug abuse. However, many teenagers are often too embarrassed or unaware of the warning signs to notify a trusted adult or their friends.

Domestic violence isn’t limited to heterosexual relationships and often members of the LGBTQ community may be denied domestic violence services as a result of homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. 43.8% of lesbian women and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 35% of heterosexual women (NNEDV, 2023).

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2019, 1 in 12 U.S. high school students reported experiencing physical or sexual dating violence. Furthermore, those who experience violence or abuse in their teenage years are more likely to be in similar situations later in life. Many individuals who engage in domestic abuse report having suffered abuse as a child or adolescent.

To address this issue, I interned with Narika, an organization whose mission is to provide domestic violence assistance for immigrant women in the Bay Area. I conducted research and composed a curriculum for middle schoolers to answer the question that was never addressed in our general education: How can we prevent unhealthy relationships? The curriculum addressed the concepts of boundaries, healthy communication, body image, and disarming triggers by creating hands-on activities and discussions.  Inspired to make an impact on the local high school community, I designed an app called Empower to educate and equip teenagers with the necessary tools to identify and avoid unhealthy relationships and teen dating violence. Check out the resources below to see how you can make a change within your community! 

In conclusion, domestic violence is a pervasive problem in our society that affects individuals of all ages and backgrounds. It is crucial to recognize the warning signs of abusive behavior, particularly in teenage and adolescent relationships. If you want to help a friend get help, offer to accompany your friend as they speak with a trusted adult (such as a parent, caretaker, teacher, counselor, social worker, etc.)  If your friend isn’t ready to talk or report their story and you’re concerned about their safety, you can discuss next steps with a responsible adult. Use this link to create a safety plan: safety plan.  It’s important for you and your friends to be aware of their resources and how they can defend themselves. 


We are grateful to former MMP High School intern, Swetha Upadrasta, for writing this important article.


By providing education and resources, we can empower young people to recognize and prevent unhealthy relationships, ultimately creating a safer and healthier community for all.



Be a changemaker and help.

Join the youth council and work with other teens to prevent dating violence Youth council.


Participate in Wear Orange Day on Tuesday, February 9th to raise awareness about dating violence and promote healthy relationships

Take a look at the ambassador toolkit created by the That’s not cool organization Toolkit

The Ambassador Toolkit: Take Action Against Teen Dating Violence – Futures Without Violence Futures Without Violence


Donate to Various Organizations

Donate to or volunteer at your local crisis center or domestic violence shelter to support survivors.




Documentaries on Gender Violence Prevention



=Check out my app empower!

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