Educating Teens on Dating Violence
The age of dating violence is getting younger and
younger. Children are experiencing dating violence as early as 11 years old. It is so important that we educate young people
about this very important topic. Many who are abused are embarrassed to say anything about it. Most don't tell adults as they
fear that the adults will take over, gossip about it or do nothing at all. Research shows that adolescents who did tell an
adult about being victimized by severe dating violence were more likely to receive an avoidance response than those who told
about less severe dating violence. Youth need training in how to respond helpfully to friends' difficulties with dating violence,
especially if it is severe. Peers also need help learning how and when to encourage victims to seek help from trained
Some teens view dating violence as normal or even
as a sign that their partner "cares".
What Friends Can
What would you
do if you thought your friend was in an abusive relationship?
Most of the
time, violence takes place when the couple is alone. You might not see dramatic warning signs like black eyes and broken bones.
So, how can you tell for sure? For one thing, listen to your instincts. You probably wouldn't be worried without good reason.
Here are some warning signs to look for that might mean your friend is in
trouble and needs your help:
- Their boyfriend/girlfriend calls them names
or puts them down in front of others.
- Their boyfriend/girlfriend acts extremely jealous when they
talk to friends of the opposite sex, even when it is completely innocent.
- Your friend often cancels plans
at the last minute, for reasons that sound untrue.
- Your friend frequently apologizes for
- You friend's boyfriend/girlfriend is constantly checking upon them,
calling or texting, and demanding to know where they have been.
- You've seen the boyfriend/girlfriend lose
their temper, maybe even get violent when they're mad.
- Your friend is always worried about
upsetting their boyfriend/girlfriend.
- Your friend is giving up things that used to be important
to them, such as spending time with friends or other activities, and is becoming more and more isolated.
- Your friend's
weight, appearance or grades have changed dramatically.
- Your friend has injuries they can't
explain, or the explanations they give don't add up.
Talking with a friend in an abusive relationship can make a big difference to them - whether they are being abused
or being abusive. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know what to say or how to say it, especially if you've never dealt with
this issue before.
- Listen first to what they have to say.
- Talk to them in private and keep
what they say confidential.
- Let your friend know why you are concerned. Be specific.
Refer to incidents you have personally witnessed instead of what you have heard from others.
- Offer to get your friend
- Mention other people your friend might talk to - a counselor, a teacher, or
another adult they trust.
- Let them know you are available to talk more if they need.
them the Love is Respect link: www.loveisrespect.org National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, number or website address.
- Be judgmental.
- Make them feel stupid or ashamed.
- Ask lots of yes or no questions. Give your friend a chance to talk freely.
- Force your friend to make a decision
or give ultimatums. They have to decide when they are ready to get help or end their relationship. You can't do it for them.
Signs of Violence: Teen Power and Control
- Peer Pressure - Threatening
to expose someone's weakness or spread rumors. Telling malicious lies about an individual to peer group.
- Anger/Emotional Abuse - Putting partner down.
Making partner feel bad about her or himself. Name calling. Making partner think she/he is crazy. Playing mind games.
Humiliating one another. Making partner feel guilty.
- Isolation/Exclusion -
Controlling what another person does, who partner sees and talks to, what she/he reads, where partner goes. Limiting
outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions.
Coercion - Manipulating or making threats to get sex. Getting her pregnant. Threatening to take the children
away. Getting someone drunk or drugged to get sex.
Social Status - Treating partner like a servant. Making all the decisions. Acting like the "master of the
castle". Being the one to define men's and women's roles.
- Intimidation - Making someone afraid by using looks, actions, gestures. Smashing things. Destroying
property. Abusing pets. Displaying weapons.
- Minimize/Deny/Blame -
Making light of the abuse and not taking concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn't happen. Shifting responsibility
for abusive behavior. Saying she/he caused it.
- Threats -
Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt another. Threatening to leave, to commit suicide, to report partner
to the police. Making her/him drop charges. Making partner do illegal things.
(Adapted and develped from "Teen Power and Control Wheel"; Prevention Researcher, 2/2009 www.TPRonline.org)
An excellent book that came out in 2016 is: We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual
Assualt Speak Out by Annie E. Clark and Andrea L Pino focuses on the 20% of young women and 5% of young men
who suffer sexual assualt at college.
Survivors courageously speak out after
decades of silence from school communities.