There are countless myths that surround domestic violence, the first myth being: “It will never happen to me or someone I love.”
Sadly countless women, both young and old, have died at the hands of someone who claimed to love them. Unfortunately I know first-hand that relationship abuse can happen, because it nearly killed me. Looking back, I was a strong, well-adjusted teen living in an environment free of violence and in the household of a loving family. When I met my boyfriend I was 17. Had you asked me back then, I would have told you–flat out–that I would never tolerate anyone controlling me, verbally abusing me, hitting me. Then before I was aware of what he was doing to me, it happened, the control he had over me was like a prison. Like so many teenagers I was wrought with confusion and fear. I was embarrassed to admit what was happening, I knew it was wrong but I was desperate to solve my own problems and not be a burden to anyone. It nearly cost me my life on several occasions.
Preventing Teen Dating Violence begins with awareness, be aware of the signs:
• Physical signs (bruising, wearing clothes that cover, no direct eye contact when asked about a bruise)
• Skipping classes, grades slip
• Inability to make decisions
• Mood swings/changes
• Experimentation with drugs/alcohol
• Emotional outbursts
• Poor Self Esteem
• Withdraws from family/friends
• Allows the boyfriend to always drive
Why Teenagers Hide the Truth:
• They lack experience with dating
• Having a relationship makes them feel older
• Teens want independence from their parents
• Their perspective of love is often derived from romantic cliché’s
Help your teenager by having open conversations about how they feel, try your best to validate their feelings and ask questions that are based on your observations. Remember the objective is creating open dialogue and to establish that speaking to you is safe.
Teenagers often experience violence in dating relationships. Statistics show that one in three teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship. In dating violence, one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse. Dating violence crosses all racial, economic and social lines. Most victims are young women, who are also at greater risk for serious injury. Young women need a dating safety plan.
Teen dating violence often is hidden because teenagers typically:
- are inexperienced with dating relationships.
- are pressured by peers to act violently.
- want independence from parents.
- have “romantic” views of love.
Teen dating violence is influenced by how teenagers look at themselves and others.
Young men may believe:
- they have the right to “control” their female partners in any way necessary.
- “masculinity” is physical aggressiveness
- they “possess” their partner.
- they should demand intimacy.
- they may lose respect if they are attentive and supportive toward their girlfriends.
Young women may believe:
- they are responsible for solving problems in their relationships
- their boyfriend’s jealousy, possessiveness and even physical abuse, is “romantic.”
- abuse is “normal” because their friends are also being abused.
- there is no one to ask for help.
Teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with respect.
Teen Dating Statistics via ACADV:
- About one in three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship.
- Forty percent of teenage girls ages 14 to 17 say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
- In one study, from 30 to 50 percent of female high school students reported having already experienced teen dating violence.
- Teen dating violence most often takes place in the home of one of the partners.
- In 1995, 7 percent of all murder victims were young women who were killed by their boyfriends.
- One in five or 20 percent of dating couples report some type of violence in their relationship.
- One of five college females will experience some form of dating violence.
- A survey of 500 young women, ages 15 to 24, found that 60 percent were currently involved in an ongoing abusive relationship and all participants had experienced violence in a dating relationship.
- One study found that 38 percent of date rape victims were young women from 14 to 17 years of age.
- A survey of adolescent and college students revealed that date rape accounted for 67 percent of sexual assaults.
- More than half young women raped (68 percent) knew their rapist either as a boyfriend, friend or casual acquaintance.
- Six out of 10 rapes of young women occur in their own home or a friend or relative’s home, not in a dark alley.
- More than 4 in every 10 incidents of domestic violence involves non-married persons (Bureau of Justice Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence, May 2000)
Join organizations that promote the building of self-confidence, or that speak out against domestic violence. Encourage your child to do the same.
Break the Cycle: A leading, national nonprofit organization giving honest, practical solutions to the very dangerous and complicated situation of teen dating abuse.
Love Is Not Abuse: Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc. has been working to end domestic violence and dating abuse. Through its Love Is Not Abuse program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, children, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic.
Love Is Not Abuse Coalition: The Love Is Not Abuse Coalition (formerly MADE), is a national coalition of concerned citizens who are advocates for ensuring that every middle school and high school in the country is teaching a curriculum on preventing dating relationship violence and abuse.
Encourage your schools to incorporate Days of Empowerment, Teen Advocacy Peer Groups, and clubs that support education for both boys and girls.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
See It And Stop It Organization
The Pixel Project
Men Engage Alliance
National Youth Violence Prevention
Center for Disease Control
US Department of Justice
D.A.S.H. Dating Abuse Stops Here In memory of Siobhan Russell
Demi Brae Cuccia Awareness Organization In memory of Demi Brae Cuccia
Ending Teen Dating Violence In memory of Lisa M Tyler
Jennifer Ann’s Group In memory of Jennifer Ann Crecente
Kaity’s Way In memory of Kaity Sudberry
Kristin’s Krusade In memory of Kritin Mitchell
The Ortralla LuWone Mosley Foundation Inc. In memory of Ortralla Mosley