Skip to main content

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Moving from Terror to Hope and Healing


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, which always makes me sad.   When I think of teens, I conjure up positive images of school, college applications, music and fashion, earning a driver’s license, crazy fun with friends, mood swings, that first crush, and steady growth into independence and adulthood - NOT violence and fear.  However, for many teens, dating violence is a terrifying reality.

 The statistics are staggering.  According to Love Is Respect, the National Teen Dating Violence Helpline, 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner every year.  One in three adolescents in the U. S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.  Use of technology to coerce, stalk, and blackmail teen partners is increasingly common in abusive teen relationships.  Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence – almost triple the national average.  Victims of teen dating violence are at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, additional domestic violence, and suicide, compared to girls and boys who are not abused.  Tragically, most teens who experience intimate partner violence never tell anyone – only 33% tell a family member or friend.  Parents and friends might see warning signs of abuse, but often feel helpless to protect the teen. 

The good news is that Dove Domestic Violence Program offers help and hope to teen dating violence victims and their families.  Dove provides prevention education in schools throughout DeWitt, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, and Shelby counties, reaching teens with information on healthy relationships, teaching them the warning signs of an abuser, and informing them of their legal rights and of how to get help for themselves or a friend.  Dove provides crisis intervention for teens in abusive relationships, including assistance with orders of protection.  (In Illinois, an adult may seek an order of protection on behalf of a minor under the age of 18.  In most teen dating violence cases, parents or guardians seek the OP on behalf of their teen.)   Individual and family counseling is available to help teens and their parents do safety planning and cope with the danger, emotional trauma, and family disruption that occurs during and after an abusive relationship.  Dove’s hotline is the best way to access or inquire about services – 217-423-2238.  The hotline and all other Dove services are completely confidential.

There are simple things we all can do to address teen dating violence: 

  • If you are a parent, model a loving and respectful relationship at home – your children and teens are watching and learning from you.  Talk to your teens about important issues and let them know that you are always there when they need to talk.  If your teen comes to you with relationship concerns, take them seriously – abusive teen relationships can be dangerous.  If your daughter or son is being abused, believe her/him, know that this is not your teen’s fault, and seek help - contact Dove’s hotline (217-423-2238).  Dove staff can discuss options with you and assist with orders of protection, counseling, and other services.  (If the situation is an emergency, call 911 first and contact Dove for follow-up assistance.)
  • If you are a teen whose partner is abusive, TELL SOMEONE!  Make sure your friends know what is happening, but more importantly, tell a trusted adult, like Mom or Dad, a counselor or favorite teacher at school – someone who can seek help for you.  You deserve to be treated with respect – an abusive relationship is not your fault and is never acceptable!
  • If you are a concerned friend or relative, talk to the teen.  Although your offer of help may be rejected at first, you have planted a seed of information and hope; the teen may reach out to you later for help.
  • If you want to know more about teen dating violence or to schedule prevention education for a class or youth organization, call Dove’s hotline (217-423-2238).

Teen dating violence is something that no teen should experience.  However, Dove’s prevention education and crisis intervention services ensure that information, help, hope, and healing are available for all teens.

Joyce Kirkland

Youth and Family Services Coordinator

Dove Domestic Violence Program

 

 

Want to know more about teen dating violence? 
Here are some great resources!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Summer Hours Set for MAX

MAX, Macon County Assistance eXchange, is a joint effort to provide a centralized location to provide monetary support to persons in the community who have a verified emergency need. MAX provides a systematic way to verify their needs and respond in a timely manner to those needs.Financial support is from area congregations, individuals and foundations. MAX also works with AMEREN IP to distribute funding through the Warm Neighbors Cool Friends Program, which assists persons with payment of their power bills, in Macon and DeWitt Counties.
Most people seeking help are sent to MAX from the 211 program, social service agencies and area congregations with anticipation of helping clients. Others seeking assistance have learned about the program from family, friends and public/social media. MAX Volunteers work with those seeking assistance, helping them fill out an application for assistance.The client then meets with the Coordinator to review the need.The application is reviewed and verified, …

Letter from the Executive Director of Dove, Inc.: Coordinating efforts to address unmet needs and social injustices.

Over the past 48 years, the religious organizations, volunteers, advocates, and staff of Dove, Inc. have been a positive force for collaboration on the tough issues facing the communities in the five counties which Dove serves.Individuals, families and children in poverty, or whose safety are in jeopardy, need the compassion and love which we have been asked to give our neighbors.
That is one reason I am excited to remain involved in Decatur’s City Revitalization process, and excited to welcome Community Engagement Coordinator, Sattin Schreiner, to our Dove family. We also had the opportunity in the last month to welcome people from across the state to our community and have them learn about loving our neighbors from some of the organizations involved in the Macon County Continuum of Care to End Homelessness, for which Dove is the Lead Agency. Our rural counties have been blessed by neighbors banding together to provide food, safety, clothing, and neighborly love to one another.In shor…

Letter from the Executive Director of Dove, Inc.: Coordinating efforts to address unmet needs and social injustices.

Dear Friends,
Have you ever been a goat?A head-butting, territorial, grumpy goat?I know that I have, and it’s something that I have to actively work to overcome.How do we avoid those instincts? Matthew 25 instructs us that we should put away those goatish thoughts by giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting the prisoner.
This December as we prepare for the celebration of the coming of our Lord, past and again, let us each look for ways to take care of the least of those amongst us.Support Dove, Inc. as we look to the future with volunteer services including Coats 4 Kids being distributed and Christmas Basket deliveries, service to our community through RSVP, BABES, MAX/DAX, and the Children’s Clothing Room, as well as our programs to shelter those touched by domestic violence and house the homeless.
If you or your organization’s members would like to learn more about supporting Dove’s mission, please re…