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Couples just about everywhere are making plans for Valentine’s Day.

But February is also the perfect time to talk with your teenagers about relationships.

Bexar County is the second highest Texas county, after Harris County which includes Houston, for reported cases of adult domestic violence, according to another TCVF report.

Like domestic violence, dating violence is a progressive pattern of abusive behaviors – physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual – that are inflicted on one partner by the other to maintain power or control in the relationship.

“When it comes to teen violence, there is almost 50/50% (split between men and women).” Pelaéz can’t pinpoint the reason behind why the reported amount of male and female aggressors is nearly equal in teen relationships.

Through her work at Family Violence Prevention Services, which offers residential and non-residential resources for victims in abusive relationships, she has observed a number of scenarios.

Young men often mimic behavior of abuse learned from father figures while young women, she said, typically lash out physically or verbally in response to abusive behavior by their male partner.

“There is an array of emotions in a relationship between two people, all kinds of emotions, and it’s acceptable and understood,” said Marta Pelaéz, president and CEO of local nonprofit Family Violence Prevention Services, Inc.

“But the one emotion that determines and, for me, defines if there’s abuse or not is if one of them is afraid of the other.” Cases of domestic and dating violence often go unreported, but most that are reported are collected from the National Teen Dating Violence hotline.

Texas ranks number two in the nation for call volume to the hotline and San Antonio ranks number four in the state behind Houston, Dallas, and Austin.

Each year, the month that so prominently celebrates love also brings with it increased pressure for many to find relationships, especially teens still learning the ropes of dating and relationships.

Without knowledge about constructive relationship-building, many teens find themselves experiencing dating violence or other forms of abusive relationship behavior, often without even realizing it.

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Teens experiencing dating violence may often think behaviors like teasing and name calling are a normal part of a relationship; however, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence.

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