Relationships can be confusing, especially if you are a teenager. Teens are not always taught about what makes a healthy relationship, and the signs that contribute to emotional, physical, or other types of abuse.
Unfortunately, teen dating violence is a growing problem in Colorado. It happens to young men and women, and sometimes, even teens who try to defend themselves are caught and charged.
Below, we’re going to detail the basics of teen dating violence in Colorado, including both what it looks like and what happens if you (or your teen) are charged with domestic violence crimes. Dating violence is domestic violence – even between teens – and charges should be immediately addressed.
What Does Colorado Consider “Dating Violence?”
Dating violence, also known as relationship abuse or domestic violence, is aggression that occurs between two partners in a relationship. This aggression could include harassment (online or in person), stalking, or physical violence. If the partners have separated, but one party continues to abuse their ex-partner, authorities may still label the act(s) as dating violence.
Dating violence does not happen overnight. Teenagers need to understand that the first signs of abuse could seem innocent. Name-calling, demands within the relationship, or smaller threats may not initially constitute “dating violence,” but if boundaries are not set or authorities do not intervene, the actions could progress to violence.
More Colorado Teens Are Experiencing Dating Violence Than You Might Think
Like adult victims of domestic or dating violence, teenagers do not always report that they are facing violence in their relationship.
In 2015, Colorado teenagers were surveyed about whether or not they had experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner in the previous 12 months. Almost one in eight females (12%) experienced physical violence, and 16% experienced sexual violence.
Dating violence against males is not as common, but it still occurs. Seven percent reported that they had experienced physical violence, and 5% experienced sexual violence.
Facing Dating Violence? “Revenge” Could Land You with Charges in Colorado
Again, teenagers unfortunately do not always report dating violence. They may not even recognize the signs of dating violence. They may see their partner’s actions as normal hiccups within their relationship, or they may decide to handle it on their own by retaliating.
It is important for teens to know that retaliation is never a way to defend yourself against dating violence. If peace officers catch your teen committing similar crimes against their partner, they could be charged.
Without the full story, law enforcement officials do not know who the “perpetrator” of the “original” domestic violence is. They will just make an arrest or press charges as they see crimes occurring.
Remember Dating Violence Is Domestic Violence in Colorado, and Charges are Serious
When dating violence is reported to or witnessed by the police, the perpetrator could face criminal charges. Depending on the age of the perpetrator and the acts involved, they may be put through Colorado’s juvenile court system. They may face penalties that include treatment programs, and a conviction on their record could have a serious impact on where they can get a job or go to college.
If your teen is older, and the charges are more serious, they may be charged as an adult and face adult penalties for domestic violence. The link between domestic violence and more serious crimes is becoming more and more clear, and consequently, authorities are trying to crack down on domestic violence offenders. Penalties may include house arrest, treatment programs, probation, and the loss of basic rights.
That being said, there are ways to fight these charges. You can learn more about what you can do if your teen is arrested in one of our previous blog posts.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.