That’s what Amelia*, 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 the quality of life for many teens is disproportionately affected. There is overwhelming evidence that this issue can be prevented, but many times 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 Amelia* our participants learn that they don’t have put up with abuse.
As we spread the word to teens in 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.
*In an effort to protect the privacy of our families, names were changed and stock images used.