Often, when the term “domestic violence” comes to mind, we think of a battered woman with black eyes and bruises, fleeing with her children in the middle of the night to a local woman’s shelter.
We rarely consider teenagers as being “victims” of domestic abuse or sexual assault by an intimate partner. Yet, statistics across the country reveal a shocking new truth.
Dating abuse is defined as “a pattern of behavior where one person uses threats of, or actually uses physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse to control his or her dating partner” (Source: Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence – Dating Abuse Facts and Action Steps).
Alarmingly, one in three teenagers report being a victim of violence in a dating relationship. Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. Unfortunately, only 33% of teens who have been in or are aware of an abusive dating relationship report telling anyone about it. Parents are often unaware that their teens are suffering from dating abuse. 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 of the warning signs of abuse (Source: www.teendvmonth.org/research).
In Indiana, 10% of high school students reported an experience of forced sexual intercourse in their lifetime; 11% of high school students reported experiencing physical abuse from a boyfriend/girlfriend the past year alone (Source: Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence – Dating Abuse Facts and Action Steps).
The personal impact of teen dating abuse is significant. Students are at an increased risk for lower grades, using drugs, engaging in risky sexual and unhealthy dieting behaviors, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and attempt or contemplate suicide.
Youth who are victims of dating violence often suffer from low self-esteem, clinical depression, isolation from family and friends, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Beacon of Hope Crisis Center, a leader in prevention and outreach services for domestic violence victims and their children, recognizes the growing need to address teen dating violence in Indiana.
OVERVIEW OF THE “TEEN TALK” OUTREACH PROGRAM
Partnering with schools, churches, and youth-serving organizations, Beacon of Hope developed “Teen Talk”, a series of interactive presentations aimed at providing outreach support to teens who may be affected by teen dating violence.
The “Teen Talk” Outreach and Education Program includes information to help teens recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship, steps to help them safely end an abusive relationship, resources and ongoing support services to help them cope once they have left, information on how to foster healthy relationships, and information on how to help a friend or family member who is being abused.
These presentations include education and awareness, in addition to an outreach and referral component. The program includes a Power Point slide presentation and interactive activities such as a discussion forum, videos, games and relevant quizzes. The program also includes occasional guest speakers, specifically teens, who have endured and left abusive relationships.
Working in collaboration with local youth-serving partners, participants will be offered safe, confidential follow-up resources for counseling, peer support groups, and in-house victim advocacy.
The “Teen Talk” Outreach and Education Program is designed to equip teen victims of domestic abuse with the necessary resources for them to make informed decisions regarding their dating relationships, while building a trusted support network should they need follow-up services.
The “Teen Talk” Outreach and Education Program has generated interest from several community partners within Marion and surrounding counties.
Collaborative partners include (but are not limited to):
MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM
The overarching goal of the “Teen Talk” Outreach and Education Program is to support the healthy development of teens by reducing their risk of continued and/or subsequent victimization in dating abuse relationships.
Evaluation surveys will be administered to participants at the conclusion of the “Teen Talk” presentations to measure the participants’ understanding of the content presented.
Education, awareness, and outreach services are critical in breaking the cycle of teen dating violence in our communities. By addressing the issue and providing solutions to teens through the “Teen Talk” Outreach Program, we have the opportunity to pioneer a much-needed service in Indiana. Most importantly, we might be able to prevent life-threatening tragedies from occurring as the result of teen dating violence.