The power of words in teen dating relationships

By Kailee Mears

With Valentine’s Day and Family Day behind us, we can reflect on how these holidays bring people closer together. Family Day is a day off for many to spend time with family. Valentine’s Day has grown into a day to celebrate love in many forms, including couples or friends.

What you may not have known is that the month of February was also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). TDVAM is meant to raise awareness of the different types of violence teenagers can experience within a dating relationship.

Statistics show that young people between the ages of 15 to 24 have the highest risk of experiencing dating violence.

Dating violence can involve physical abuse like hitting, slapping, pushing or kicking. It can also involve a type of violence called emotional violence.

Emotional violence is the use of words to hurt, intimidate, embarrass or harass a person. It is the most common type of dating violence and often comes before other types of violence. One study suggested that up to 62 per cent of 12 to 18 year old’s have experienced emotional violence while in a dating relationship.

While it may be easy to see the results of physical violence through injuries, it can be difficult to see how words can affect a person emotionally.

As youth grow up, one can expect to hear some version of “don’t let words get the better of you.” While it is important for youth to learn to become resilient, it is important for both youth and adults to recognize when a person’s words are truly harmful, especially when it comes to dating relationships.

One of the first steps you can take is to pay attention when someone is speaking and how their tone makes the youth and those around them, including yourself, feel.

Hearing something like “Why don’t you just shut up?” can make a person feel very small, scared and uncomfortable. Hearing “Oh come on. Everyone is doing it. Just try it once,” could have the effect like they are being pressured into doing something they don’t want to do.

Or even “Why didn’t you text me back? I texted you a lot. What were you doing? Who were you with?” can feel like being controlled by the person saying it – that we cannot do anything without replying to a text message right away or face some sort of punishment. Being independent in a relationship is important. We need to have time to ourselves and with others to maintain our relationships.

If you overhear something that makes you feel off or uncomfortable from the dating partner of a friend, co-worker or youth in your family, it is important to check in with that person. By asking that friend/co-worker/youth how they felt during that conversation and pointing out how you felt may make the youth more aware of how they may have been treated with disrespect. It could give the person a chance to reach out for help if they are uncomfortable with how their partner is speaking to them.

Words can be powerful. It is important for youth and adults to know that they deserve to be spoken to with respect, love and dignity, especially when it comes from a dating partner. If something does not sound right or makes someone feel scared, it is important to say something and seek help.

Kailee Mears is a prevention educator at the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre.

Article as published in the Red Deer Advocate on March 1, 2022


Monthly update – CASASC Connections – March

Welcome back to CASASC Connections. This is a space where we provide updates on our services, programs and all things CASASC for the month of March.



Counselling can be accessed Monday – Friday and does not require a referral or special circumstances. Individuals can call the main office to start their counselling journey anytime at 403-340-1124.

  • Sessions are offered in-person, through secure video chat or by phone
  • Waitlist is approximately two months
  • We have a session cap of 15 sessions

Adult clients: Call the main admin line. An intake appointment will be booked with our Intake Worker, then you will be set up with a counsellor.

Child/youth clients: We will need to ensure consent forms are in place (both parents or legal documentation) and the same process will happen – an intake appointment is booked, followed by appointments with one of the child counsellors.


Kinship Intervention Program (KIP)

KIP offers a combination of early intervention practices and a community-based approach, integrating anyone in the youth’s support network or community.

Available to any Indigenous youth (age 6 -17) who exhibits sexualized behaviour concerns or engages in “sexual acting out” or who has experienced sexual violence. The program works collaboratively with the youth’s family and elders.

KIP builds relationships throughout Central Alberta with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous service providers and communities. We can provide in-person mental health services for Indigenous youth and adults, including crisis intervention and remote counselling services.


24 Hour Sexual Violence Help Line


Available through call, text or webchat – We provide 24/7 confidential and anonymous support and a friendly conversation with the end goal being information, support and referrals.

February was the second busiest month on record with 209 contacts. This equals an average of seven contacts per day.

Volunteer Opportunities – email

Join our team. We continue to accept applications for virtual and remote volunteers on the 24/7 Help Line and an on-site admin/reception volunteer.


Police, Community + Court Support

For more info email

The CASASC Police, Community + Court Support program is your safe place. We are dedicated to being that place where you work through your options, navigate the system, and process a traumatic experience. Our support workers are here to listen and support you while you are considering or navigating the criminal justice system. We are advocates and sources of information for you – that safe guiding presence throughout the process.

The Community + Court Support Program is available to anyone (age 16+) who has experienced sexual violence. You’d don’t need to be an existing CASASC client.

No matter where you are in your healing journey, or whether you choose to report, the Police, Community + Court Support Program is here to provide:

  • Support, information, and advocacy. No legal services or advice is provided
  • Can discuss options for legal advice and provide resources and referrals
  • Information about reporting, the court process and court preparation
  • Accompaniment to report and/or court proceedings
  • Assistance with filling out forms and applications

*Ask us about the SUPPORTIVE REPORTING option

Victims of Crime Week is coming in May – stay tuned for more details on our virtual event May 18.


Education – Prevention and Awareness

It’s not too late. Our education team has openings for school and community presentations, in-person and/or virtual delivery of any education programs. Get us in before the end of the school year.

Visit for program details. Choose an already developed presentation or let us know a topic of particular interest as we can build a program around your needs.

*Teacher and parent in-services available, prior to student presentations or as an added PD opportunity.


Let’s connect

Follow us on our social pages to stay updated with what we are up to

  • Twitter @CASASC2
  • Facebook @CASASCRD
  • Instagram @CASASC3


Did You Know?

  • The Police, Community + Court Support program offers a Supportive Reporting option to all community members who’ve experienced sexual violence. Supportive Reporting provides options on meeting victims of sexual violence at a place and time where they feel most comfortable to report what happened to them. This is a collaborative program with Red Deer RCMP and CASASC.
  • Sexual violence remains a problem in Canada. Forty-five per cent of adult Albertans have experienced some type of sexual abuse in their lifetime. That is almost one in every two Albertans.
  • In Alberta, two in three women and one in three men have experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime. In a 2019 study, 67% of Albertans indicated knowing a survivor of sexual abuse, with 53% having personally supported a survivor.
  • We have a selection of support documents including tip sheets, movies and storybooks that can be used to facilitate conversations with children and youth. Connect with us to get these helpful resources.


Ask an Expert – Parenting + Sexualized Behaviour Conversations with our clinical expert

Join us for an informal session with our Child Therapist to learn information related to parenting and supporting children and youth who display concerning sexualized behaviours.

OR join us to discuss a situation or behaviour your child/youth is engaging in, get some advice on what is developmentally appropriate, how to support and respond.

Find more info here


Youth Opportunity – Seeking Poster Ideas

Have you seen our Only Yes Means Yes (OYMY) posters around your community? What would you like to see on a consent-related OYMY poster?

We are looking to expand the campaign with new poster variations, and we’d love to hear your ideas. Let us know what you would like to see on a consent poster, your ideas, specific wording or your thoughts on a different target audience.  Or try your hand at designing a new look for our posters.

Poster ideas, designs and messages should focus on what consent can sound & look like? Remember, consent is not just for sexual activity.

Email your ideas and designs to supports CASASC

CASASC recently received a donation from

CASASC Executive Director Patricia Arango (right) accepted the donation of $3,535 from Wade Bayntun (left) of Red Deer. provides IT support and productivity solutions to help organizations be their best.

The donation to CASASC will be used towards counselling services.