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Teen dating violence becoming an epidemic

September 30, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Staff Writer , Salem News

Where is domestic violence learned? What kind of relationship examples do parents set for their children? What kind of relationship do you think your teen has with her boyfriend or his girlfriend? What is that relationship really like?

"Cara" says she didn't realize what was going on between her daughter and the boyfriend. She didn't know the guy choked her daughter, causing her to pass out, or that he was threatening harm to the people in her life. He never left marks on her. He was always personable with the family. Yet, he warned if her parents found out about the abuse there were ways to get rid of her mother, such as cutting the brake line on her car.

Her daughter broke up with the boyfriend. She was terrified when he said he would, in his own good time, take care of her mother. She told her father not to leave her mother alone for even a few minutes. She begged him. But he didn't take her seriously. He not only left her mother home alone, she saw him at a public place talking to her ex as if they were good friends.

"Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime," advises the CDC. "Dating violence often starts with teasing and name-callingbut these behaviors can set the stage for more serious violence like physical assault and rape."

Teen dating violence is physical, sexual or psychological/emotional violence in a dating relationship, including stalking; in person or on the Internet.

Results of the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Study conducted by the CDC suggest that only 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped or physically hurt intentionally by their boyfriend or girlfriend., The CDC also advised that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men who have ever been raped, physically battered or stalked by an intimate partner had their first experience with some form of partner violence between the ages of 11 and 17.

A positive relationship builds positive attitudes and lifestyles. Unhealthy relationships are the extreme opposite. Both can last a lifetime.

"Victims of teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, and report binge drinking, suicide attempts and physical fighting," says the CDC. "Victims may also carry the patterns of violence into future relationships."

So, why does dating violence happen?

"Teens receive messages about how to behave in relationships from peers, adults in their lives and the media." The learned examples suggest that violence is OK. But it is not.

"Since the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, we have seen domestic violence homicides drop significantly across the country," says Bea Hanson, acting director of the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice.

"If it isn't us," Hanson blogs, "it's our family, our friends, our neighbors, our colleagues." Domestic violence is always close to home.

There are some resources available to victims of domestic violence. From a safe location:

National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474; 1-866-331-8453 TTY; or text message "loveis" to 77054. Visit the website at

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE. This is RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).

Young women need a safety plan. It isn't a violation of your privacy for your parents to know where you are going on your dates. It's part of your dating safety plan. And if your plans change, let a friend, someone you trust, know the changes, who you will be with and ask them to call later to make sure you arrived home safely.

Be firm and straight-forward in your relationships. If you have to walk on eggshells, if you have to be careful what you say because your boy/girlfriend will become angry, perhaps violent, take that as a warning sign. And remember that using alcohol or other drugs lessens your ability to react, to defend yourself. Think ahead about ways to be safe. Be where other people are. Who would you call if you were stranded? Where would you go to get away from someone who abuses you?

Dating violence has been tagged "epidemic." What kind of relationship is your teen living? Is there danger ahead?

Family Recovery Center promotes the well-being of individuals, families and communities.

For more information about domestic violence and bullying contact us at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.



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