Safe Passage: February Is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
The Safe Passage Prevention Team (left to right): Lindsey Polly, Morgan Jobst, Bridgitte Taylor and Samantha Santen. They will make several presentations this month regarding Teen Dating Violence Awareness. Photo provided.
(Batesville, Ind.) – We know friends don’t let friends drive drunk, but friends also don’t let friends stay in abusive relationships. “You’re harming your friend by not saying or telling them that this relationship or behavior is not normal or healthy,” said Bridgitte Taylor, a Prevention Coordinator for Safe Passage, Inc., the domestic violence shelter and support service provider for southeast Indiana. “People need to speak out when their gut tells them something is wrong…Perhaps you see too much control, constant putdowns about her or his friends and family, jealousy or isolation. These are all warning signs of abuse. Too many times it’s not spoken of until after the breakup,” or worse, when it ends tragically, Taylor adds.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness (TDV) month and Safe Passage’s Prevention team is taking this message on the road. They have several presentations scheduled to middle and high schools in the six counties the nonprofit serves. Prevention and education is a component of Safe Passage’s mission. A teen dance on Feb. 23 in collaboration with a Batesville’s Matthew 19:26 Mission Team is in the works, and the Batesville High School and Oldenburg Academy teen councils are making plans for PSA announcements during the month. BHS is also selling flower-grams with an encouraging message and will make a presentation to sophomores. OA has trivia games and a TDV awareness presentation at the boys basketball game against Lawrenceburg. This school year the four person SP Prevention team has met with Batesville, St. Louis, Jac-Cen-Del, Sunman-Dearborn Middle School, Madison Consolidated and Oldenburg Academy students about healthy relationships. Awareness of the warning signs of an abusive relationship is a step in reducing the numbers affected by physical or verbal abuse.
According to the Love is Respect website, only 33 percent of teens who were in an abusive relationship ever told anyone about the abuse, and that includes parents. As Taylor points out, although 82 percent of parents feel confident they could recognize the signs of abuse, a majority (58 percent) could not correctly identify the warnings signs of abuse. Keep in mind too that it’s likely their child is hiding it from them as well: 73 percent of teens turn to a friend. Those “friend” relationships are thus critical in recognizing the signs of abuse. Taylor advises teens, “The friend in the abusive relationship might not want to hear what you say, but planting the seed of red flags that you see are critical.”
A Batesville senior involved with the teen council at Safe Passage will often question friends about their dating relationships and how certain behaviors make them feel. “It’s hard to just flat out say leave because they’ll say you’re just trying to break them up.”
Local teens are often surprised to hear TDV can happen to anyone; there is no stereotype, and that obsessive texting and pressuring to send selfies are warning signs of unhealthy relationships.
Research shows that violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and domestic violence. The Batesville senior who often talks frankly with her peers about this issue commented of such warning signs, “They might see the signs, but prefer to stay together because they believe it’s better than being without a boyfriend or girlfriend. People don’t like feeling alone, and for our age it’s particularly hard.”
Safe Passage also presents teen dating violence at the college level, and has plans for more sexual assault awareness programming at Hanover College in Jefferson County and Ivy Tech campuses in the district. Surveys indicate nearly half of dating college women experience violent and abusive dating behaviors.
The SP Prevention Team message is clear: No amount of violence is normal in a relationship. After a TDV presentation, “We hope they walk away being able to recognize the characteristics of a healthy relationship, and the red flags of a destructive one, but also to know there is help. We really want everyone to see the importance of their own self-worth in every relationship,” Taylor said.
If you would like to learn more about teen dating violence or to schedule a presentation, contact Safe Passage Prevention at 812-933-1990 or go to our website at safepassageinc.org. The toll-free number 24/7 number is 877-733-1990. All calls are confidential.
Feeling afraid of your dating partner
Feeling isolated/losing friends
Changing behavior because of a partner’s jealousy
Being afraid to express feelings or anger
Feeling embarrassed, put down, ashamed, guilty
Feeling nervous or sick feeling in your stomach when partner is irritated
Ignoring your feelings
Isolating from others
Making you feel guilty
Threatening to hurt self
Putting down friends/family