Dating violence is the most prevalent type of youth violence with one in three adolescents reporting victimization. Close to 1.5 million high school students across the nation have experienced physical abuse in a relationship. Physical violence is common with one in 10 high school students disclosing they have been purposefully physically abused by a dating partner. Ever-developing technologies can make this dating violence more pervasive and more hidden. Young victims will seldom disclose their abuse to caregivers and can often feel isolated and/or ashamed of the situation. Victims of dating violence are more likely to experience:
• Symptoms of depression and anxiety
• Engagement in unhealthy behaviors, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, or risky sexual behavior
• Suicidal thoughts
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month was developed to shed light on abuse in teen and young adult relationships. “Hands Unite: Do your Part” is the theme this year developed by Loveisrespect.org; inspiring young people to not use their hands for dating violence, but instead to construct healthy dating relationships.
Turning Point sees the necessity for this awareness as we have long been aware that dating violence is a precursor to a life of domestic violence. By giving teens the tools they need to recognize the differences between healthy and unhealthy relationships, we can protect our youth from the fear and heartbreak of violent and coercive relationships.
Our Teen Advocacy program is committed to providing training that works with youth to prevent unhealthy relationships. Robin McNeal is our teen advocate who has developed presentations that help students recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, warning signs of an abuser, signs that you or someone you know is in a dangerous relationship, keys to healthy relationships and safety planning. She can also have some offer some insight to educators regarding the issues of teen dating violence. For more information, please contact Robin McNeal.
Turning Point offers a 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence. If you or someone you know needs help or if you would like more information, please call (800) 232-6505 or 740-382-8988.
Turning Point is a nonprofit agency. Funding comes for a variety of sources including the United Way and the Delaware/Morrow Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.
Paula Roller is executive director of Turning Point, a nonprofit organization serving domestic violence victims and their families for more than 30 years in Crawford, Delaware, Marion, Morrow, Union and Wyandot counties.