CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — February is widely seen as the most romantic month of the year, but it’s also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Additionally, Valentine’s Day can be a sad or difficult time for victims of abuse of any age.

On Valentine’s Day, flowers, cards, and chocolates are a plenty. However, a sad reality for many who are in abusive relationships, is that receiving gifts and being showered with affection could be part of a cycle of violence that can circle right back to tension, and emotionally or physically violent behavior from their partner.

Experts say in February, a number of factors, including financial and seasonal, contribute to a rise in instances of domestic violence.

Despite Valentine’s Day social media posts where the relationship may seem great, you never really know what’s going on.

“Social media is a great place for us to put all the fun stuff. Not a lot of people put the negative stuff, so I think it’s really important that we all just educate ourselves on what these signs are of unhealthy relationships,” explained Amanda Anderson, Director of Fulton County’s Domestic Violence Program, “so if we’re aware of it, we can recognize it ourselves or in others.”

Advocates at The Family Counseling Center in Gloversville walked us through some of those signs that might not jump right out as abuse.

“If your concern is about meeting their needs all the time, and they’re concerned about you meeting their needs all the time, but they are not meeting your needs, then that’s a problem,” said Candy Gurtler, The Family Counseling Center Program Coordinator.

An advocate from Equinox explains Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity to stop dating abuse before it starts.

“To be in a healthy relationship, and what a healthy relationship looks like, needs to be taught just as well as anything else,” said Kelly Donlon, Equinox Program Services Coordinator, “and that’s the interesting thing about how Valentine’s Day is pushed in schools, is that there is no focus on, ‘what does our relationship look like? How should you be treated?’“

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

Family Counseling Center Hotline: 518-725-5300

Equinox Hotline: 518-432-7865