By Teen Voices editorial intern Lauren Castner
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Violence in intimate relationships is often kept a secret out of fear, shame, or embarrassment. This month, it’s all about getting these issues out on the table and creating awareness so that girls and boys alike can feel comfortable coming forward and getting the help they need if they are in an abusive relationship.
The Clothesline Project, an organization seeking to create awareness about violence against women, puts into perspective just how common teen dating violence can be: “Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.” Even scarier than this fact is that many people do not report being abused, so the numbers could be even higher.
Dating violence is more than just physical abuse. A partner who is overly controlling, extremely jealous, and always checking up on you is abusing you too, and that abuse could turn physical. Verbal mistreatment, or name calling, insults about your appearance, and rude or crude comments are abuse too. Verbal and psychological abuses are just as much domestic violence as hitting and kicking.
The Lindsay Ann Burke Memorial Fund has a helpful list of warning signs that could help you realize that you are in an unhealthy relationship that could be headed towards physical abuse. Some of the signs include: “isolation, verbal abuse, controlling behavior, and threats of violence.”
This month, let’s all put our foot down and say “No!” to dating violence. Talk about this issue with your friends and family; make sure people know that teen dating violence is a problem. Talk to your friends if you are concerned about a relationship they may be in. Become an advocate for yourself and others and create awareness about the issue in your community. Can’t come up with a good idea? Check out Love is Respect – they have a whole list of things you can do!
There are many different organizations working to help teens get out of unhealthy and abusive relationships. Please do not hesitate to contact any of them if you feel that you, or a close friend or relative, could be in a dangerous situation.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474
Teen Relationships: 800-300-1080