Monday, June 22, 2009

Do you deserve it?

Despite the fact that most people seem to agree that dating violence is wrong, it seems that many teens are justifying it. If you look at many of the blogs about dating violence, a lot of the comments say that the victim of abuse must have done something to provoke the abuser and therefore deserved the consequences. How does that sound to you? Is it okay to hit your boyfriend or girlfriend just because they make you really upset? Can someone say something to you that justifies you hitting them? Unfortunately many teens feel this way. A lot of them think that violence (physical or verbal) is a part of any normal relationship. A lot of the teens I talk to say that they believe that it is not okay to hit your partner, but many of them admit that they see it happen all the time at school, at home or in their communities.

According to the CDC, 10% of students in our country have been physically harmed by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year. And The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline said that this percentage doubles to 20% for those students who have been in a “serious” relationship. Hurting a boyfriend or girlfriend, be it physically or emotionally, is never a part of a healthy relationship. I encourage you to comment on the blogs and videos where you see people leaving comments that promote the idea that it’s the victim’s fault. Let your peers know that that isn’t the case and abusers should be held accountable for their actions. Each person is responsible for his or her actions and that includes our reactions to other people, no matter how angry we get at them.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Teen Dating Violence Up in the recession?!

Today I came across this article on cnn. The article reports, among other things, that nearly half of all teens whose families experienced economic difficulties over the past year have witnessed their parents abusing each other, and that those teens who reported witnessing abusive relationships at home were more likely to be in abusive relationships themselves. The article also reports that parent-teen conversations about dating violence might be ineffective – citing that 78% of teens surveyed stay in abusive relationships despite their parents advising them to leave.

The survey, sponsored by family violence prevention fund and Liz Claiborne, reports a lot of interesting findings, here are the highlights:

Nearly 50% of teens report being victimized by controlling behaviors from a boyfriend or girlfriend.

24% have been victimized by a girlfriend or boyfriend through “technological means”

Conversations on dating abuse are difficult and unproductive because both teens and their parents are extremely uncomfortable talking to each other about the most serious aspects of dating abuse.

Only 25% of teens have taken a class about teen dating violence, but 75% of those who have taken such a class now know the signs of an abusive relationship and are confident they could spot abuse in their own relationships.

Relationship Abuse IS a problem and something needs to be done to change these numbers. So what can you do? Help get teen dating violence curricula in your school.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Who does dating abuse affect?

I feel like I’ve been hearing a lot of misconceptions lately about who experiences domestic and dating abuse. A lot of people think it’s an adult problem, or something that only happens to women, or an issue that only comes up in poor neighborhoods or communities of color. I want to take this opportunity to clear something up: dating abuse affects everyone.

First things first. Relationship abuse isn’t just something that only adults or married couples experience. In fact, young women between the ages of 16-24 are at the highest risk for abuse in their relationships. Also, you’ve heard it before but I’ll say it again: as many as one in three teens experience dating abuse. That’s over ten students per any average high school classroom.

Second. Women are not the only victims of abuse. Men and boys can, and do, experience relationship abuse as well. This is an easy thing to be confused about - we certainly do hear about men abusing women much more than we hear about women abusing men, or about abuse in same-sex relationships. I think, though, that this is partly because men and boys are much less likely to report abuse that they experience in their relationships. They may feel ashamed or embarrassed, or maybe they think no one would believe them, or that they’re doing something wrong, or maybe they don’t even recognize their partner’s behaviors as abusive. By avoiding the assumption that abuse only happens by a man against a woman, we can help everyone feel more comfortable seeking help for abuse – regardless of their gender or sexuality.

And finally. Abuse can happen in any community. It does not matter how much money you have, what you look like, how popular you are, how much education you or your parents have, what language you speak – abuse, unfortunately, does not discriminate. By denying that domestic and dating abuse exists, we also deny people the right to speak up when they experience it, the right to receive dating abuse prevention education, and the right to competent and compassionate services for help. The sooner we acknowledge that domestic and dating abuse can happen in our community (and that when it does, it is a community problem) – the sooner we can move forward in trying to end and prevent it.

What myths have you confronted about dating abuse and who it affects? I’d love to hear your thoughts.