While the issue of domestic violence has gained greater recognition over the last few years, teen dating violence and abuse remains an issue that often goes unrecognized or not discussed by many parents and teens. Attorney General Gansler is urging teens, parents, and educators to take the time to learn how to recognize the signs of dating violence and abuse so they can help prevent it.
Studies have shown that dating abuse and violence can begin at an early age, said Attorney General Gansler. It is important for all of us to be able to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship and provide help to the victim before the abuse escalates.
Teen dating violence is not just physical abuse. Abuse can take many forms including threats, emotional and sexual abuse, extreme jealousy, and isolation from friends and family. Almost any tactic used to control a partner can constitute dating abuse or violence. According to information from the House of Ruth, one in four teens will be in an abusive relationship.
A 2008 online survey commissioned by Liz Claiborne, Inc., and loveisrespect.org found the following:
-- Sixty-nine percent of teens who had sex by age 14 reported some type of abuse in a relationship, with slightly more than one-third saying they had been physically abused, according to the survey, conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited;
-- About 10 percent of the teenagers surveyed said they had had sex by age 14, while 20 percent said they had sex between the ages of 15 and 16;
-- One in five 13- or 14-year-olds in relationships say they know friends and peers who have been struck in anger by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Sixty-two percent have friends who have been called stupid, worthless or ugly by their dates.
Despite the number of teens who say they have experienced abuse or say they know someone who has, only about 51 percent say they were aware of the warning signs of a hurtful dating relationship. Slightly more than that, about 54 percent, said they would know what to do if a friend came to them for help.
Domestic violence can have devastating outcomes. A review of cases by the Baltimore City Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team (BCDVFRT) found that domestic violence victims often fail to seek help.
This year, we reviewed two cases where the domestic violence victim, with a significant history of abuse, killed her abusive partner. In both cases, members of the BCDVFRT interviewed the victim/defendant. A critical part of the interview was to try to determine why the victims did not access available domestic violence services in the community. In both cases, the victim/defendant indicated that she believed the violence in her relationship was normal. She did not consider this behavior to be domestic violence and she did not recognize the dangerous and escalating violence. Moreover, she did not realize that the domestic violence services available in the community were available and appropriate for her. -- 2008 Report from the BCDVFRT
Simply starting the conversation with our teens about the signs of domestic abuse can be the opportunity for a victim to seek help, said Attorney General Gansler. Making sure young adults are aware of the problem is the first step in keeping our kids safe and out of abusive relationships for the rest of their lives.
The Teen Dating Violence Quiz can be found at http://www.oag.state.md.us/teendatingviolence.htm along with a host of other resources and information for victims of dating and domestic violence.
Source: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler