October is National Domestic Violence month and we can’t let it go by without addressing domestic violence in teen relationships. According to the statistics:
The truth is, girls are either experiencing or witnessing domestic violence occur on high school campus all around the country. It’s happening. I have facilitated FANCY Teen Girls workshops with middle and high schoolers over the last 7 years and anytime I start working with a new group they ask to talk about relationships. Healthy relationships. Every single time. The fact is, many girls aren’t aware of what domestic violence truly is. They perceive a controlling and overbearing partner who shows them all the attention they need – is love. Unfortunately, in many cases, this partner is the only person showing genuine interest in them – and who they are, versus who their family perceives them to be.
During our FANCY Teen Girls workshops, we discuss what domestic violence looks like – how to identify it – and what to do if you or someone you know is experiencing it. We also discuss that domestic violence can occur between friends as well – not just boyfriend/girlfriends. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Dating violence is a type of intimate partner violence. It occurs between two people in a close relationship. The nature of dating violence can be physical, emotional, or sexual.
Dating violence can take place in person or electronically, such as repeated texting or posting sexual pictures of a partner online.
Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence.
The most disheartening part of the conversation is the lack of reporting and the lack of awareness amongst parents. According to loveisrespect.org:
Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse.
In their article, loveisrespect.org provides ways you can look for some early warning signs of abuse that can help you identify if your child is in an abusive relationship before it’s too late. Some of these signs include:
Here are some additional tools for you to download to get the dialogue started: http://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/download-materials/.
As a parent – if you see signs of domestic violence – be prepared to listen, not judge or reprimand. Provide support to your teen, show concerns, and focus on the behaviors vs. the person. Your teen needs to know they can trust you with this information, and that they won’t “get into trouble” for disclosing their experiences. Most important – decide what the next steps will be – together. Keeping the lines of communication open is very important. You don’t want your teen to shut down on you in fear of what may happen next.
We are here to help! DETOUR Empowers host monthly FANCY Teen Girls workshops every 3rd Saturday at O’Farrell Charter School from 8 am – noon. Visit our website for details and registration www.detourempowers.org.
Allow this topic to be a conversation starter to bring you closer! Your healthy relationship with your teen is always most important!