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Educating Teens on Dating Violence
The age of dating violence is getting younger and younger. Children are experiencing dating violence as early as 11 years old. It is so important that we educate young people about this very important topic. Many who are abused are embarrassed to say anything about it. Most don't tell adults as they fear that the adults will take over, gossip about it or do nothing at all. Research shows that adolescents who did tell an adult about being victimized by severe dating violence were more likely to receive an avoidance response than those who told about less severe dating violence. Youth need training in how to respond helpfully to friends' difficulties with dating violence, especially if it is severe. Peers also need help learning how and when to encourage victims to seek help from trained practitioners.
Some teens view dating violence as normal or even as a sign that their partner "cares".
What Friends Can Do:
Support for a Friend
What would you do if you thought your friend was in an abusive relationship?
Most of the time, violence takes place when the couple is alone. You might not see dramatic warning signs like black eyes and broken bones. So, how can you tell for sure? For one thing, listen to your instincts. You probably wouldn't be worried without good reason.
Here are some warning signs to look for that might mean your friend is in trouble and needs your help:
What you can do
Talking with a friend in an abusive relationship can make a big difference to them - whether they are being abused or being abusive. Sometimes, it can be difficult to know what to say or how to say it, especially if you've never dealt with this issue before.
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Signs of Violence: Teen Power and Control
Peer Pressure:Threatening to expose someone's weakness or spread rumors. Telling malicious lies about an individual to peer group.
Anger/Emotional Abuse: Putting partner down. Making partner feel bad about her or himself. Name calling. Making partner think she/he is crazy. Playing mind games. Humiliating one another. Making partner feel guilty.
Isolation/Exclusion: Controlling what another person does, who partner sees and talks to, what she/he reads, where partner goes. Limiting outside involvement. Using jealousy to justify actions.
Sexual Coercion: Manipulating or making threats to get sex. Getting her pregnant. Threatening to take the children away. Getting someone drunk or drugged to get sex.
Using Social Status:Treating partner like a servant. Making all the decisions. Acting like the "master of the castle". Being the one to define men's and women's roles.
Intimidation: Making someone afraid by using looks, actions, gestures. Smashing things. Destroying property. Abusing pets. Displaying weapons.
Minimize/Deny/Blame: Making light of the abuse and not taking concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn't happen. Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior. Saying she/he caused it.
Threats: Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt another. Threatening to leave, to commit suicide, to report partner to the police. Making her/him drop charges. Making partner do illegal things.
(Adapted and develped from "Teen Power and Control Wheel"; Prevention Researcher, 2/2009 www.TPRonline.org
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