Did you know that one in three young people experience abuse in their relationships? You can help raise awareness today – visit TeenDVMonth, Break the Cycle and Let Your Heart Rule for more information.
To correct common misunderstandings about abuse and promote real solutions to dating violence, here are some tips and guidelines to follow from Teen DVMonth:
The abuse is never the victim’s fault. It may be tempting to focus on what the victim could have done to avoid abuse. Nothing a victim does invites or excuses abuse. There are many reasons a person stays in an abusive relationship. Liking the abuse is not one of them.
Telling someone to “just leave” the relationship is not the answer. There are many reasons why teens and 20-somethings stay in unhealthy relationships. For one, breaking up can be the most violent time in an abusive relationship. Without understanding the obstacles a young person may face and helping him or her through a safe separation, the situation usually gets worse, not better.
Take relationships among youth seriously. Even if a person is young, his or her relationship still matters. By assuming teen relationships are just “puppy love,” adults risk overlooking the seriousness of dating violence. Abuse among youth can be just as destructive as among adults, if not more so. Dating abuse can lead to unwanted pregnancy, eating disorders and even suicide.
Dating violence happens in every type of relationship, in every community. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, confident or shy. Anyone can become part of an unhealthy relationship and no one has a predisposition to becoming a victim of abuse. Victims do not begin the relationship with “low self esteem.”
Dating violence isn’t just physical. Emotional and sexual violence can be just as, if not more, devastating to a young person’s health than physical violence. Learn more about the types of abuse.
Do not advise teens to fight back. When a victim violently lashes out against his or her abuser, the violence often escalates. The abuser may even take that moment to “prove” the violence is mutual and, sometimes, to press charges. Moreover, fighting back does not end the violence. It is much more effective to seek legal help or make a safety plan.
There’s never a point where you should “cut off” a friend who is being abused. Part of an abuser’s tactics is to isolate his or her victim. Without a supportive community, the victim finds it harder to leave the unhealthy relationship. Being a good friend, listening and supporting the victim’s decisions are the best ways to show him or her that there are alternatives to the abusive relationship. Learn more about how to serve as an effective ally.
We have some great local resources in MetroWest:
- REACH Beyond Domestic Violence
- Sudbury, Wayland, Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable
- Domestic Violence Services Network