Opinion

Scary stats: Teen break-ups and domestic violence | Amy Johnson

October is filled with ways to make being scared into something fun — but it’s also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

One in three teens reports knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped or physically hurt by their dating partner. (Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005). One in four women has experienced intimate partner violence in her lifetime. And though men can also be victims, 85 percent of those who suffer from intimate partner violence are women, according to Eastside Domestic Violence, a Puget Sound Area program.

Those are scary statistics and no fun at all.

With numbers like these, we’ve got to step up and have more meaningful conversations about violence in relationships. We need to be talking more, and educating ourselves and our youth, about what is healthy and what is not. Most people do not intentionally get involved in a relationship that is violent. Knowing the warning signs and getting out early can literally be the difference between life and death.

Here are some red flags. Does your partner:

• Act extremely jealous and protective?

• Keep you from friends and family?

• Limit your access to resources, like money, the phone, or the car?

• Check up on you all the time?

• Hurt you, or threaten to hurt you?

• Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?

• Force you to have sex or do things you are not comfortable doing?

• Humiliate, criticize or yell at you?

• Destroy things that are sentimental to you?

Many people think that partners in relationships like this should “just leave.” Unfortunately, 75 percent of homicides and serious assaults happen when a partner in a domestic violence situation expresses her intention to leave or does leave. It’s extremely important to have a safety plan in place when deciding to leave a relationship that has red flags like those listed above. Go to www.edvp.org for more information, or go to www.aardvarc.org/dv/plan.shtml to access specific questions for planning. Both sites have a quick escape button in case you become worried your partner will see you are on the site.

Teens have some specific resources available to them. Check out www.loveisrespsect.org. While you’re at it, help them focus on healthy relationships and healthy break-ups. With social networking and cell phones, it’s especially important for teens to have the information they need to behave well and safely when break-ups occur.

Earlier this summer, the Boston Public Health Commission co-sponsored a summit for teens on healthy relationship break-ups.

Among their resources are tips for parents on supporting teens and a healthy relationship quiz. See links below.

Healthy relationships require work. They also require education about the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship — and how to get out safely if things are going awry. Take time to check out all the resources in this article to keep yourself and your teen safe, and pass them along to those you care about.

Resources

Ten Tips for Supporting Your Teen during a Break-up

Healthy Relationship Quiz

U R Breaking Up, a tool using cell phone analogies about chances for best reception of your break-up message.

What Apps Will You Use? Helps teens think about technology tools and break-ups and how to use them wisely

• Help for teens about dating violence: www.loveisrespect.org. Includes info on sexting, texting, relationship quizzes and more.

• Help for women and men about intimate partner violence: www.edvp.org or www.aardvarc.org/dv/plan.shtml

• Phone lines: If you’re in immediate danger, call 911. Eastside Domestic Violence hotline is (425)746-1940. Domestic Abuse Women’s Network hotline is (425) 656-7867. National Domestic Abuse hotline is (800) 799-7233.

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