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A secret too harmful to keep: dating violence

Editor's note: The following information was provided by Someplace Safe as part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

This month aims to bring attention to the pervasiveness of teen dating violence.

Dating, domestic and sexual violence affect citizens regardless of age. Teens and young adults are especially vulnerable to this violence and often lack the resources to receive the help they need.

Abusive relationships can be especially hard for teens to identify and understand as well as escape.

Women ages 16 to 24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group, experiencing violence at almost triple the national average.

One in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. This is a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth.

Teen dating violence is a devastating reality in our schools and communities. Only approximately 30 percent of teens who are in abusive relationships will tell anyone about the abuse.

Eighty-one percent of parents either believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they do not know if it is one.

High school students who experience physical violence in a dating relationship are more likely to use drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide and carry patterns of abuse into future relationships.

Therefore, it is vital that we spread awareness on this issue, educate each other, provide support to those in abusive dating relationships and work to prevent it from happening.

Every person has the right to a safe and healthy relationship free from fear of violence or abuse. Young people need to be able to reject violence in all their relationships and foster mutual respect.

Unfortunately victims of violence often suffer in silence, not knowing where to turn for guidance or support.

Early warning signs that a relationship may eventually become abusive include:

•Extreme jealously.

•Controlling behavior.

•Quick involvement.

•Unpredictable mood swings.

•Alcohol and drug use.

•Explosive anger.

•Isolating from friends and family.

•Using force during an argument.

•Blaming others for his/her problems or feelings.

•Verbally abusive and threatens violence.

•Abused others before.

Learning what is a healthy relationship and supporting one another in violence free relationships can help to stop the violence.

Understanding what constitutes violence and where and how to get help can also stop the abuse.

It is important to remember that no one deserves to be abused or threatened, but rather treated with respect. Staying in the relationship most often means the violence will escalate.

Some common clues that indicate a teenager may be experiencing dating violence are:

•Changes in mood or personality.


•Failing grades.

•Truancy or dropping out of school.

•Physical signs of injury.


•Use of drugs or alcohol.

•Emotional outbursts.


Someplace Safe works with victims of teen dating violence to help recognize the clues and warning signs of violence and to discuss ways of keeping safe.

Services are provided free of charge. Someplace Safe is also available to provide public education, promote awareness and provide presentations.

Someplace Safe can be contacted at (320) 762-1995 for more information.