February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
In a single year, nearly 1.5 million teens experience physical violence from someone they dated and one in four adolescents experience emotional, physical or verbal abuse from a teen dating partner. Often times, emotional abuse can create a pathway to physical violence.
Cherise, 15, is one of the 80% of teens that feels verbal abuse is a serious issue. Her boyfriend had anger and jealousy issues. She loved him, but felt smothered by what h called “protection” – waiting by her locker, taking her phone, and looking at what she posted. When she refused to share passwords, he called her names and told her no one else would love her. Another teen said she was being coerced into doing things against her better judgement. She wanted to end the relationship, but was afraid of what he would do with a naked picture she had shared with him. She described the relationship as toxic even though they did not live together.
Young women ages 16-24 are the most vulnerable be to abuse (although young men can be victims too). Dating violence in this age group is 3x the national average. More than 50% of all high school students report dating violence and 75% know a friend who has experienced physical violence. This dangerous pattern negatively impacts developing teens as victims are often times at greater risk to abuse tobacco, drugs or alcohol; exhibit antisocial behavior; develop eating disorders; or engage in risky sexual behavior. Half who reported dating violence or rape attempt suicide. With roughly two thirds of adolescents in a violent relationship unable to share their reality, it is not surprising that 80% of parents do not see teen violence as an issue.
Family Advocacy’s Victim Advocacy Program is partnering with Child Youth Services to provide sessions to help teens learn relationship skills, ways of communication, and anger management. These are important tools that build on character, self-esteem, resilience and success. In addition, they build on a teen’s ability to recognize abuse and distance themselves from an unhealthy relationship.
Middle school and high school students can participate in the Teen Outreach Program (TOP) at the Teen Centers at 3:30 p.m. on February 7 at Fort Shafter and February 11 at Schofield.
If you are interested in any of our Family Advocacy Program classes, please visit The USAG HI 24/7 Safe line is 624-SAFE. For more information on Dating Abuse Statistics, visit . Text “loveis” to 22522 or call 866-331-9474..