The statistics are shocking!
- Violent dating behavior occurs between the ages of 12 and 18. One out of three adolescent girls is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
- One in five girls between the ages of 11 and 14 knows a friend who is in a verbally abusive relationship. One out of three teens acknowledges knowing a classmate who endures the physical acts defined as punching, kicking, or slapping.
- Approximately 45% of girls acknowledge pressure to either have sex or perform oral sex.
Viewed through the mind of a victim of dating violence, their situation is complicated. Emotions are tangled between thoughts of self-blame and the optimistic hope that love will ultimately prevail. Survivors of dating teen violence believe their actions in the course of the relationship encouraged the violent or verbal acts. Despite the growing feelings of terror, 33% of teens choose to keep their relationship a secret.
At the age of 17, Kayla Hayes met the dark and handsome 21-year-old named Seth Fleury. From the beginning of their relationship, she saw warning signs described as possessiveness and jealousy, the ease with which anger developed, and rage displays. Even though it was her first serious relationship, Kayla remained optimistic, not wanting to give up on the thrill of love. She was naïve about what defined physical, emotional, and verbal abuse, believing her situation couldn’t possibly be deemed unhealthy or considered dangerous. On the day she confronted Seth, intending to break-up, the moment happened too quickly. Seated in the passenger seat, Hayes recounts, “He tried to kiss me, but I refused and backed up, only to feel him latch onto me.” Out of vengeance, he covered her mouth with his teeth and bit down, tearing the skin and tissue from upper to bottom lip and cheeks, leaving an intentional mark for her next boyfriend.
Alternative plans had to be instituted the following fall. While her classmates attended college, Kayla underwent reconstructive surgeries and battled nightmares, paranoia, and depression. Kayla wrote, “If I sit down and let this defeat me, then he will only get more satisfaction out of what he’s done.”
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- A smaller percentage, 33% of teens, reveal their secret.
- Though 82% of parents believe they could recognize the signs, 58% could in fact not identify the warning signs of abuse.
Initiating a conversation to discuss teen dating abuse and violence, although daunting, is essential. Here are some recommended apps to help parents and teens become well informed and begin practicing safety. “One Love Foundation” helps individuals determine whether a relationship is unsafe. Additionally, it provides access to trained advocate support day and night.
- “Circle of 6” is for teens and college-aged friends, and allows access to six trusted individuals. With a “touch” to the screen, an individual in danger can quickly and discreetly send a text which says, “Come and get me,” “Call and pretend you need me,” or, “I need to talk.”
- “Love is Not Abuse iPhone” offers information to parents regarding the dangers of digital dating abuse.
Sarah writes, “My ex-boyfriend abused me. I knew the signs and stayed. I was 14 and scared. He threatened to put his hands around my neck and choke me until I died. That’s the day I left and filed for a restraining order.”
It is a brave act to end an abusive and violent relationship. The cycle will continue despite the evidence of tears, small and large gifts, and beginning over and promising to be a better person. In the state of North Carolina, a TPO, termed a Temporary Protection Order, is a free court order to protect an individual from an abusive dating partner. In urgent cases, law enforcement officers can issue the order. By violating the TPO through verbal threats, visitations, or possession of a firearm, the defendant will be arrested and charged.
Statistic: Long-term abuse results in consequences liked to alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, suicidal tendencies, and violent behaviors.
February is a month for awareness of teen dating and violence. If you have a teenager, take the time to start the conversation!