February is National Teen Dating Violence
NEWPORT, R.I. and WARREN, R.I. (February 2, 2018): While many people equate love and romance in February with Valentine’s Day, it’s also the time of year to help teens who may find themselves in an abusive dating relationship.
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and the Women’s Resource Center serving Newport and Bristol Counties (WRC) is doing just that.
Established in 1977, the WRC is a domestic violence education and prevention agency that turns its focus to teens and their parents, offering opportunities to educate young people that loving relationships are not abusive.
“It’s important for teens, parents, teachers, clergy and others to understand what constitutes an unhealthy or abusive relationship and where they can find information and help for themselves or someone they care about,” states Lori N. DiPersio, WRC executive director. “Unfortunately, dating violence is more common than many people think. Teens and young adults might not have the awareness to recognize behavioral problems with their partner or the confidence to break free of the relationship. Anger based in jealousy, or actions that are controlling are oftentimes glossed over or mistaken for affection. These behavioral traits, when unchecked, can lead to domestic violence in adulthood. Teens need to know how to leave an unhealthy relationship before it becomes violent.”
According to statistics from the national website loveisrespect.org, one in three teens in the U.S. has experienced some form of abuse by a dating partner. Dating abuse affects around 1.5 million teens annually, and 43% of dating college women report experiencing abusive dating behaviors. Dating violence can happen to anyone, regardless of financial status, race, gender, sexual orientation or background. It is never the victim’s fault.
Dating violence can take many forms, including:
Physical: hitting, slapping, choking, kicking
Emotional/Verbal: putting you down; embarrassing you in public (online or off); threatening you in any way; telling you what to do or what to wear
Sexual: pressuring or forcing you to do anything sexual, including “sexting;” restricting access to birth control
Digital: sending threats via text, social media or email; stalking or humiliating you on social media; logging into your social media or email accounts without permission; forcing you to share passwords.
Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is offering resources and support services for teens and young adults experiencing dating violence as well as prevention education. “Perpetrators frequently use multiple types of abuse at the same time in order to control their partner,” explains Ms. DiPersio. “We want teens, their parents and everyone to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms, and to know our doors are open to come in or call for help. Simply knowing how to recognize abuse is often the first step, including what someone should do when they witness this abuse first-hand. The second step is to get the victim and their perpetrator support and, potentially, the intervention that is needed. Sometimes the best way to start is with a conversation.”
Women’s Resource Center staffs a 24/7 Helpline at 800-494-8100. For more information or to inquire about Teen Dating Violence Awareness services, call 401-846-5263 or visit wrcnbc.org.