Ever wonder, “Why does the Domestic Violence Action Center, or DVAC, have a program just for teens?” Or, “Do teens really go through serious stuff in their relationships?” “Isn’t that stuff just normal teens being teens with all their hormones and trying to figure out who they are?”
The answer to this is, absolutely NOT!
Being a teenager is supposed to be fun!
Yes, you’re figuring out who you are, where you belong, and what you want to do; you’re also trying to decide what kind of person you want to be and what kind of person you want to be with. This is crucial to the teen years, because often, if you don’t learn from them, the mistakes you make in dating as a teen will be repeated in adulthood.
This is why we decided to focus on teens. Evidence shows that teens often don’t even realize they’re in an unhealthy relationship when they are. Sometimes it’s because they are just doing what they see at home. Sometimes they’re emulating things they see played out in the media that appears to be cool at most and normal at least. Typically, teens wait until an unhealthy relationship turns physically violent before reaching out for help. The Teen Alert Program recognized this and decided to surge forward with a program that would reach out to teens and talk to them about warnings signs, and other characteristics, in an attempt to prevent such things from occurring.
Check this out!
- Only half of all tweens (age 11-14) claim to know the warning signs of a bad/hurtful relationship. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008.)
- 80% of teens regard verbal abuse as a “serious issue” for their age group. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)
- 1 in 3 teens in the United States experience sexual or physical abuse or threats from a boyfriend or girlfriend each year. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s 2005 study on Long-term consequences of childhood sexual abuse by gender of victim.)
- 62% of tweens (age 11-14) who have been in a relationship say they know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc.) by a boyfriend/girlfriend. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2008.)
- If trapped in an abusive relationship, 73% of teens said they would turn to a friend for help; but only 33% who have been in or known about an abusive relationship said they have told anyone about it. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.)
- Less than 25% of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents. (Liz Claiborne Inc. study of teens 13-17 conducted by Applied Research and Consulting LLC, Spring 2000)
- Of the women between the ages 15-19 murdered each year, 30% are killed by their husband or boyfriend. (City of New York, Teen Relationship Abuse Fact Sheet, March 1998)
Being in a relationship can be difficult at times. Leaving a relationship can be even harder. Now, don’t get me wrong! I am in no way saying that every relationship where there are problems, that means there is abuse. Nor am I saying that you or your partner will never mess up; or make each other mad. I’m not even telling you that you don’t have the right to feel angry! Or hurt. Or frustrated; irritated; needing space. All of these, and more, are very natural feelings. However, it’s how we express those feelings that can sometimes be the problem.
Sometimes it can be difficult to receive or ask for help from the people you trust most. Abuse happens in ALL types of relationships- teen relationships; heterosexual relationships (either guy to girl or girl to guy); and LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, and more) relationships. Teen Dating Violence (TDV) happens no matter the race/ethnicity of the individuals in the couple; no matter how much money they or their families have; no matter how much, or what kind of, education they have. Abuse can affect anyone!
The Teen Alert Program is here to be an inclusive, prevention and intervention fountain of information and resources for you! We also have a Teen Advocate who you can access and work one-on-one with to discuss things that you may not be able to discuss with others in your life regarding your, or someone you know, potentially unhealthy relationship. The advocate will never tell you what to do; but she will provide you with the information and safety planning that you need until you feel comfortable making that decision for yourself.
Remember those statistics? How do you identify with them? Do you know someone who gets talked down to by their dating partner? Someone who used to be such fun to hang around, and now if you get to see them, they’re always on edge, worried about what their boyfriend/girlfriend might do if they catch you together; someone whose personality has completely changed since being in this relationship; someone who never seems to come around at all anymore, maybe their family barely sees them as well. Or maybe this person is you. Maybe you forgot what it was like to have fun; to be care free; to hang out with friends and family. Maybe you gave up sports, journalism club, GSA, or other things you loved. Maybe you’re in your first same-sex relationship and you’re scared of what will happen if you break up with the person, in spite of how they’re treating you. Maybe your friends expressed concern about your dating partner being trouble, and now you feel like you can’t talk to anyone without hearing “I told you so”.
Call us! Come up to us in the classrooms. Email. Let us know that you’re hurting and tell us what you need. Even if it’s just someone to talk to, reaching out for help is crucial. It doesn’t make you weak. Quite the opposite! So much strength and courage goes into reaching out for help when you need it. Hit us up on Instagram or Facebook, and let us know that you’re paying attention and how we can help you. If nothing else, comment below J
Remember, you’re not only the hope of the future…you are the hope of TODAY!