Friday, October 23, 2009

A Volunteer's Perspective

Hi there! My name is Teresa and I'm a volunteer at Break the Cycle. I am a senior in college, so I can easily relate to a lot of the experiences and challenges that visitors to our website deal with. A large part of what I do includes answering some of the "Ask Anything" emails that we receive from The Safe Space. Although many of the questions we receive ask for advice on how to safely end a potentially abusive relationship, it has become clear that the issue of domestic and dating violence is widespread and affects many different aspects of teens' lives.

There is a wide variety of emails that come in. These can range from one person asking how they can help their friend get out of an abusive relationship, to another person feeling like they have nowhere to go because they have a child with their abusive boyfriend or girlfriend, to another person who has ended their abusive relationship but is still dealing with the repercussions of the abuse. This shows that the issue of domestic and dating violence is very complex; our job is to try to connect these people to resources that can help their particular situation.

As awareness about teen dating violence has increased nationwide, the emails have increasingly indicated that people are learning how to recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Recognizing the warning signs of abuse is very important because if you don't realize there is a problem, how can you fix it? I am glad that teens are becoming better informed about the dynamics of abusive relationships, because education is the first step to prevention. Yet it is clear that we still have a long way to go in educating teens about the issue of domestic and dating violence.

So what can you do? Continue to visit The Safe Space at and encourage your friends and classmates to do the same. There you will find many handouts about various topics related to domestic and dating violence, from information about warning signs of abuse, to how to prevent technology from becoming a tool for abuse, to information about your particular state's laws concerning teens and their rights when it comes to dating violence.

When it comes to answering emails, one thing that I learned is that every situation is unique; what works for one person might not work for another. The important thing to remember is that there are options. And if you can't find the information you need, email us--that is what we are here for!

You can reach us at

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