That’s what Rachel, one of the teens participating in our Teen Dating Violence Awareness classes taught by Women In Distress Education Specialists, said. It seems like an obvious statement, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Nearly 1.5 million teens in the United States experience physical abuse from a dating partner during the year. That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control who has labeled teen dating violence a public health issue. Teen dating violence is so prevalent that quality of life is threatened, a disproportionate group of individuals are affected more than others (teens), there is evidence that the issue can be prevented, and overwhelmingly those preventative measures are not in place.
The seriousness of teen dating violence hits home when we hear stories like Jessica’s*. Her 15 year old boyfriend threatened her within an inch of her life for wearing something he didn’t like to school one day. The abuse got much worse, and became physical before she finally decided to leave, eight years later. It hits even closer to home when we hear stories like the 16 year old teen in Maryland, who broke up with her boyfriend and didn’t come home from school the next day because her ex-boyfriend was so enraged that he took his father’s gun to school and fatally shot her. As a matter of fact, numerous news stories point out that teen dating violence can be an indicator of gun violence and even those who are not a part of the relationship can get caught in the cross fire.
That’s where Women In Distress comes in. In the spirit of prevention, our Teen Dating Violence Awareness classes empower teens to recognize the beginnings of abusive behavior. It also makes them aware of the resources they need to exit abusive relationships safely. Teens attend classes free of charge. And, just like Rachel* our participants learn that they don’t have put up with abuse.
When you donate to Women In Distress, you help us with programs such as Teen Dating Violence Awareness classes. As we spread the word to teens to middle and high school students throughout Broward County we’re fulfilling our mission of stopping domestic violence abuse for everyone through intervention, education and advocacy.