Questions every parents and teen should be asking….”What Can I do to bring awareness to the growing epidemic of Teen Dating Violence?”
Many may or not be aware that today, February 1, 2011 kicks off the second year to recognize Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Every day should be recognized as personal safety awareness but this month we will streamline and focus on our young people.
Did you know that 1 in 3 teens in a serious relationship reports having been hit, slapped or pushed by a partner? Not only can abuse be physical but it can be sexual, verbal, emotional and stalking. And, it can even be digital abuse. To make matters worse, dating abuse has also been linked to other serious issues, like drug use, teen pregnancy and suicide.
What’s the bottom-line? Teens have the right to be educated about safe and healthy relationships, free from abuse. And, we are going to be shouting from the rooftops all month long and ask that you assist us.
We want to reach as many teens as humanly possible every single day. We need to get this information out to students, teachers, parents, administrators and anyone else that wants to get involved. We will raise awareness nationwide and direct youth to Project Safe Girls as well as other agencies and places that they can get help. We are asking for your help – we need as many voices to be heard.
Please invite your friends, family members, parents, associates and peers to join us as we extend our hand to our young people. Our young people must begin to learn extremely important “life skills” that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Who wouldn’t want this vital information and training for themselves, their daughter, sister, any family member or friend?
Take care and STAY SAFE!
One major trend we have seen is the obsessiveness that young couples can have. Here are some ideas to be aware of:
1) Low self-esteem causes different behavior
If teenagers, or anyone has low self-esteem it can cause them to be more desperate for connection or control. Teenagers, developmentally tend to have lower self-esteem as their bodies change. Low self-esteem can also cause couples to be more jealous and needy of each other, which can be a precursor to abuse.
2) Control can be addictive
I talk to teenagers all day long about what they are anxious about. Many of them feel very out of control and this scares them. Teens tend to rarely be in control; rather they are usually being controlled. They are controlled by parents, teachers, principles, counselors, coaches, colleges and bosses. What they can control is another teenager and this can over extension of control can be a form of abuse.
3) Control and monitoring is now easier
It is actually easy to smother someone without even realizing it. We can text, MySpace message, Facebook stalk, call, IM, BBIM, email or ping. I have often written about teens need to constantly be connected and abuse often stems from people needing to be connected to another more frequently. Smothering, which might not be abusive, but is abnormal nonetheless, is so much easier in a digital age.
4) Obsessiveness can go unnoticed
Because everyone is connected all the time, teens might not even realize how obsessed or compulsive they are with the other person. This allows the behavior to continue far longer and at a much higher rate than ever before.
5) Inequality breeds discomfort
This concept is nothing new. I have heard young couples talk about inequality in relationships. The idea of “who has the power” is something that teens today are much more aware of. It is the reason men wait 3 days to call a girl back (need to be the one with the power) and no one wants to say “I love you” first. This kind of thinking, can lead to abuse or unhealthy relationships.
6) Abuse does not only have to be physical
Abuse can be emotional, verbal, psychological or physical. This is an important idea to explain to new couples. Often times, someone in the relationship (see inequality above) feels uncomfortable, but is afraid to say anything because they think it is normal or would not qualify as abuse.
7) Lack of connection means they need more to connect on
The cotton candy friend epidemic is a huge issue because teens are not feeling as connected or intimate with their friends because all of their interaction is so superficial. This can make young people, who are starving for closeness, crave a smothering or obsessive relationship more than previous generations.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Abusive behavior is any act carried out by one partner aimed at hurting or controlling the other. Dating violence happens in male/female relationships as well as in lesbian and gay relationships.
A violent relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you. Violence is about power and control. When someone uses abuse and violence against you, it is always part of a larger pattern to try and control you. Even though most people think that violence in relationships happens only between married persons, the same kind of violence also happens between people who are dating regardless of their sexual orientation. Even if you are not being hurt physically, verbal and emotional abuse are just as painful and often lead to physical violence.
A Rise in Efforts to Spot Abuse in Youth Dating
Heather Norris was 17 when she met her boyfriend, and 20 when she died at his hands. In between, Heather Norris tried several times to leave the relationship, which was fraught withcontrol and abuse, before she was killed — stabbed, dismembered and discarded in trash bags.
Her death in 2007 in Indianapolis is one of several stemming from abuse in teenage dating relationships that have spurred states and communities to search for new ways to impress on adolescents — and their parents and teachers — the warning signs of dangerous dating behavior and what actions are not acceptable or healthy.
Texas recently adopted a law that requires school districts to define dating violence in school safety codes, after the 2003 stabbing death of Ortralla Mosley, 15, in a hallway of her Austin high school and the shooting death of Jennifer Ann Crecente, 18, two years ago. Rhode Island in 2007 adopted the Lindsay Ann Burke Act — prompted by the murder of a young woman by a former boyfriend — requiring school districts to teach students in grades 7 through 12 about dating abuse.
New York recently expanded its domestic violence law to allow victims, including teenagers in dating relationships, to obtain a restraining order against an abuser in family court rather than having to seek help from the criminal justice system. Legislators were moved to act after a survey by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene showed that dating violence had risen by more than 40 percent since 1999, when the department began asking students about the problem.
Although there are no definitive national studies on the prevalence of abuse in adolescent relationships, public health research indicates that the rate of such abusive relationships has hovered around 10 percent. Experts say the abuse appears to be increasing as more harassment, name-calling and ridicule takes place among teenagers on the Internet and by cellphone.
“We are identifying teen dating abuse and violence more than ever,” said Dr. Elizabeth Miller, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis, who began doing research on abuse in teenage dating relationships nearly a decade ago.
Dr. Miller cited a survey last year of children ages 11 to 14 by Liz Claiborne Inc., a clothing retailer that finances teenage dating research, in which a quarter of the 1,000 respondents said they had been called names, harassed or ridiculed by their romantic partner by phone call or text message, often between midnight and 5 a.m., when their parents are sleeping.
Such behavior often falls under the radar of parents, teachers and counselors because adolescents are too embarrassed to admit they are being mistreated.
They can seek help from the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, where calls and hits to its Web site, loveisrespect.org, doubled in November over the previous month. Awareness of the help line has grown since it was started in early 2007.
Most of the calls come from girls, often in response to relentless texting or efforts by boys to dictate what they do or wear.
While texting that runs to 200 or 300 messages a day can be a prelude to abusive behavior, William S. Pollack, a Harvard University psychologist and the author of “Real Boys” (1998) and “Real Boys’ Voices” (2000) about boys and masculinity, said his research had found that “usually when adolescent boys get involved with girls, they fall into the societal model which we call ‘macho,’ where they need to show they are the ones in control.”
Actions like nonstop texting or phoning often are efforts “to gain control back,” said Dr. Pollack, who is the director of the Center for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass.
Reacting to the killings of Heather Norris and other girls by their romantic partners, Indianapolis started a program to train police officers in public schools to recognize the early signs of abuse in relationships. A group of Indianapolis organizations won a $1 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to help schools tackle the issue, part of $18 million in grants to 10 communities to help break patterns where children exposed to violence at home repeat it in their adult relationships.
The foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., decided to fund preventive efforts based on research, including from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. In the C.D.C.’s 2007 survey of 15,000 adolescents, 10 percent reported physical abuse like being hit or slapped by a romantic partner. Nearly 8 percent of teenagers in the survey said they were forced to have sexual intercourse.
Dating abuse victims, the center found, are more likely to engage in binge drinking, suicide attempts, physical fights and sexual activity. And the rates of drug, alcohol and tobacco use are more than twice as high in abused girls as in other girls the same age.
“Few adolescents understand what a healthy relationship looks like,” Dr. Miller said.
Adolescents often mistake the excessive attention of boys as an expression of love, she said.
Kayla Brown, 18, was among them. At first, her high school boyfriend made a great impression last year when he “called my mother to introduce himself,” said Ms. Brown, a senior at an Indianapolis charter school.
Then he began “calling me every hour to see where I was and what I was doing,” she said. Finally, during an argument he slammed a chair into a cafeteria table and raised his fist.
She confided in her mother, who has suffered domestic violence, and followed her advice to break off the relationship. But it was not easy. For months, she had friends accompany her in the school hallways, even to the bathroom, to make sure she was not alone with him.
“When he would call or text her, she had to answer right away or there was trouble,” Ms. Norris said. “She became quiet and withdrawn around him, and that wasn’t like her.”
“She hadn’t seen him in four months,” she added, “and was getting ready to go to court because she had filed battery charges against him.”
Mr. Bean was convicted in Heather’s killing last September.
Ms. Norris, an accident investigator for the police, said, “What happened to Heather really opened the eyes of police, the people I work with, who used to look at domestic violence differently,” seeing it as a family matter.
What happened to Heather before she was killed is common in abusive relationships, said Stephanie Berry, the manager of community health at Clarian Health, a network of Indiana hospitals, which is leading the program being financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
Many teenagers, Ms. Berry said, “see the jealousy and protectiveness as ‘Oh, he loves me so much.’ Girls make excuses for it and don’t realize it’s not about love, but it’s about controlling you as a possession.”
For Ms. Berry, 43, the issue is personal. Her high school boyfriend “wanted a commitment right away, which was very flattering,” she said. But she soon found herself “walking on eggshells,” she said.
Even after he went to college, she said, the relationship was so “addictive” that she kept returning — until it “turned violent and he beat me up when I was 21.”
A study, published last July in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, suggests that such behavior is not unusual. The study found that more than one-third of the 920 students questioned were victims of emotional and physical abuse by romantic partners before they started college.
The Indianapolis program will train older teenagers as mentors and teachers, coaches and parents as “influencers” who will talk to sixth, seventh and eighth graders about what is acceptable behavior in dating.
In her grief, Ms. Norris created heathersvoice.net to help girls learn when things are amiss in a relationship. “Heather always thought she could change people,” she said, “so I guess I’m trying to follow what she wanted.”
This 2006 Emmy nominated film about teen dating abuse and violence shows real teens telling their stories of dating abuse and violence. The film describes how dating abuse and violence starts, how it progresses, how the abuser acts, and how to recognize it.
- 1 in 5 teens in a relationship have been hit, slapped or pushed by her/his partner
- Teens are at higher risk of intimate partner abuse when comparing to adults.
- Females ages 16-24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group – at a rate of almost triple the national average.
- Among female victims of intimate partner violence, a current boyfriend or former boyfriend or girlfriend victimized 94 percent of those between the ages of 16-19.
- Between 1993 and 1999, 22% of all homicides against females ages 16019 were committed.
- Half of the reported date rapes occur among teenagers.
- Intimate partner violence among adolescents is associated with increased risk of substance use, unhealthy weight control behaviors, sexual risk behaviors, pregnancy, and suicide.
- 50% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually or verbally abused in a dating relationship.
- 45% of girls know a friend or peer who has been pressured into either intercourse or oral sex.
- 1 in 3 teens reports knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped or physically hurt by their dating partner.
- One 33% of teens who were in abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
- Among 13-18 year old teens who have been in a relationship, 15% said they’ve had a partner hit, slap or push them. 4% of teens agreed that tit’s okay for someone to hit their partner if they really did something wrong or embarrassing. More Hispanic teens (135) reported that hitting a partner was permissible.
- 30% of 13-18 year old teens reported worrying about their personal physical safety in a relationship.
- 20% of 13-18 years old teens who have been in a serious relationship have been hit, slapped or pushed by a boyfriend or girlfriend
If you or a friend is involved in an abusive relationship please seek help. Talk with your parents, get the facts; call the crisis hotline to the agency in your county, or call the National Teen Dating Hotline, 1-866-331-9474 or visit their website, loveisrespect.org and speak to a Peer Advocate via online chat.
It’s not too late, YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Being a student first with the immediate understanding of the S.P.E.A.R. system prior to becoming a P.D.R. certified instructor with Blauer Tactical Systems; I believed as a student and firmly believe as an instructor AND SURVIVOR that the S.P.E.A.R. system is by far the most realistic and automatic personal safety/self-defense system to learn. Personal safety/self-defense is NOT martial arts or a sport – it is entirely about protecting and defending yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually and ultimately physically.
An excerpt from Tony Blauer:
The core of P.D.R.™ (Personal Defense Readiness) is based on the S.P.E.A.R. SYSTEM™ (Spontaneous Protection Enabling Accelerated Response) which is the first genetically & behaviorally inspired self-defense course of it’s kind. It is the only self-defense method that fully integrates the body’s reflexive responses and instinctive survival mechanisms making the S.P.E.A.R. SYSTEM the easiest, most natural way to protect yourself. Our program also includes unique and patented learning models but most importantly, we have pioneered research on how to manage and overcome fear.
Strategically & tactically speaking, our courses are based on how real confrontations actually occur! We have been leading the scenario/behavioral approach to training for over 20 years. Our curriculum is based on a ‘3-Dimensional’ theory that creates confidence on emotional, psychological and physical levels.
OUR TEACHING DOCTRINE
We only teach realistic self-defense skills that are street applicable. Students are exposed to aggressive as well as defensive role-playing to simulate encounters and to prepare them to react ethically as well as decisively to real-life aggression. Our curriculum covers verbal defusing tactics, choice speech principles and a host of other behaviorally researched strategies.
Training in our system engenders personal evolution: Our breakthrough research on fear management is the foundation of our program and understanding and directing fear is the key to overcoming any obstacle in life. We’ve had many individuals participate in the program and experience transcendent applications in their professional life and in intra-personal relationships.
Our system fosters respect for yourself and others by developing virtues like self-discipline, humility, assertiveness and character. Since our program is so focused around the managing of one’s fears, it directly works the ‘esteem’ and ‘ego’ centers of anyone sincerely studying the system, ultimately leading to greater self-knowledge and personal evolution.
Please take a moment to watch the video to below to enhance your understanding of P.D.R. and the S.P.E.A.R. system.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Warning signs to watch out for teen dating violence include: sudden loss of interest in activities, low grades, changes in appetite, changes in sleep patterns, loss of regular friends and drastic changes in clothing.
Often victims will wear long sleeves, long pants and scarves to hide bruises and marks. If you as a parent suspect that your teen is in an abusive relationship, encourage zero tolerance for inappropriate dating behaviors.
If you suspect that your teen is being violent to their dating partner, talk to them. Let the teen know that love is about respect. Sometimes it is difficult to realize that your child is being mean or violent. Do not allow aggressive behavior in the home. Talk to the teen about emotional abuse and how it is unacceptable in any relationship. You could say something like, “It bothers me when you yell at so-and-so.” Express concern and talk to the teen about appropriate behavior. You may even want to seek professional help for your teen.
Teen dating violence is a problem that parents can help prevent. Talk to teens about the different types of violence. Be alert for warning signs and let the teens know that you care. Most of all, show teens the appropriate way to behave by being respectful and caring towards other people.
Encouraging teens to have healthy relationships before they begin dating is important. Be aware and keep the lines of communication open with teens about their relationships.
Signs of an abusive relationship
There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you have to walk on eggshells around your partner—constantly watching what you say and do in order to avoid a blow-up—chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.
To determine whether your teen relationship is abusive, ask her/him to answer the questions below. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that your teen may be in an abusive relationship.
Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings
- feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
- avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
- feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
- believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
- wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
- feel emotionally numb or helpless?
Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior
Does your partner:
- humiliate or yell at you?
- criticize you and put you down?
- treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends and family to see?
- ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
- blame you for his/her own abusive behavior?
- see you a property or a sex object, rather than a person?
Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats
Does your partner:
- have a bad and unpredictable temper?
- hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
- threaten to commit suicide if you break up with him/her?
- force you to have sex?
- destroy your belongings?
Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior
Does your partner:
- act excessively jealous and possessive?
- control where you go and what you do?
- keeps you from seeing your friends or family?
- constantly checking up on you?
- excessive texting or calling you?
If your teen is afraid for her/his safety or has been assaulted by her/his partner please dial 911 or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-787-3224.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
PROJECT SAFE GIRLS IS ACCEPTING REGISTRATION FOR PERSONAL SAFETY TRAINING FOR FEMALES, AGES 13-23 (in school) on Saturday, February 27th, 2-6pm at Chapel Hill/Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, S. Estes Drive, Chapel Hill, NC. Please call, 919-225-1421 or email, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for further information and to register.
No personal safety/self-defense course can guarantee you anything 100% but at least by investing in the education and training you will have a fighting chance. You will learn awareness, learn what the warning signs/red flags are and ultimately how to use your mind, body and spirit to ultimately physically protect and defend yourself in the event of an altercation.
“Life Extension Insurance” How much is your life, your daughter’s or loved one’s life worth? Training and education for the rest of one’s life.
As you all know this is the first year that Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention is being honored for a whole month instead of the first week of February as it has been in the past. This is largely thanks to the support and influence of several U.S. Senators as well as Vice President Joe Biden. Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Joseph Lieberman(I-CT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have been huge supporters of moving the awareness up to a month and we are very grateful for their hard work. We have a video clip of the Senators along with Attorney General Tom Perelli discussing teen dating violence awareness and prevention after the jump, so check it out!