Teen Dating Abuse

February Is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

What is Teen Dating Violence?
TDV is any pattern of abuse or threat of abuse in a teen dating relationship. Violence can be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or digital.

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What Does it Look Like?
Unlike adult intimate partner violence, aggression tends to be mutual, but the reasons are different.(1) While both boys and girls are aggressive out of anger, girls use aggressive behavior to defend themselves, while boys use aggression to gain control.

Boys and girls are also affected differently. Girls are more likely to be injured and suffer long-term effects. Boys are more likely to laugh it off.(1)

How Common is TDV?
Each year, about 1.5 million high school students experience physical violence. Of those that report TDV, 76% report emotional violence in the forms of verbal abuse, isolation, or embarrassment.

What Puts Teens at Risk?
Factors that lead to a teen’s vulnerability to dating violence include witnessing or experiencing violence in the home, having a friend involved in TDV, or believing dating violence is okay.(2)

A major risk factor for teens is that dating is a completely new world to them. If they do not have guidance from healthy adults, they tend to flounder alone through new feelings, challenges, and experiences.

The teen brain is going through a rewiring process from back to front. This means the part of the brain involved in emotions and rewards matures before the part that calculates risk, makes plans, and stops inappropriate behavior. The teen brain also has a Personal Fable, an Invisible Audience, and the Myth of Invincibility. What do these mean in dating? Well...

Personal Fable: ”every relationship and breakup in my life is of lasting and global importance” Despite how it sounds, the teen is not being dramatic; it is a part of their brain development.

Invisible Audience: everyone is watching and evaluating me” This makes teens susceptible to peer pressure both good and bad. Violent behavior may be exhibited in front of friends when the teen would not normally behave that way (3).

Myth of Invincibility: ”this behavior or activity is risky, but nothing will happen to me”

How Can I Help the Teens in My Life?

Be a Model: teens not only need to see many examples of healthy relationships, but they may have a fairytale-esque view of relationships. When conflict arises, they may not be prepared, so having models of proper conflict resolution is vital.

Have Conversations: teens need mentors, but they are striving for independence. Casual, matter-of-fact conversations are great places to share advice and guidance.

Help Them Set Boundaries: and the earlier the better! Having boundaries set before a relationship starts is better than attempting to figure out boundaries as you go.

A great place for teens to learn more and receive support is our Hope-Filled Teens Support Groups. New groups, one for boys and one for girls, start March 26th. Learn more: www.doorofhopeministries.org/events. If a teen needs help, feel free to contact Gabby at gabby@doorofhopeministries.org or 763-767-2150.

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Written by Gabby Plaep, Door of Hope’s Youth and Young Adult Ministries Coordinator. Gabby can be reached at at gabby@doorofhopeministries.org or 763-767-2150.

Sources
1.  Teen Dating Violence: A Closer Look at Adolescent Romantic Relationships, Carrie Mulford Ph. D and Peggy C. Giordano Ph. D., NIJ Journal Issue 261
2.  Understanding Teen Dating Violence Fact Sheet, 2014--National Center for Injury Prevention and Control
3.  NIJ Journal

 

Stalking is Abuse Too...

One is six women are stalked in their lifetime…

One is six women are stalked in their lifetime…

by Youth and Young Adult Ministry Coordinator, Gabby Plaep

Did you know January is Stalking Awareness Month and that this year is the 15th annual National Stalking Awareness Month?

I must admit, I was shocked to hear that this has been around for 15 years. Stalking is not a topic discussed often, or that people know much about.

So, let’s look at the basics and some common misconceptions.

What is Stalking?

According to Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC), stalking is “a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”

While many think of stalking as being followed or spied on, it involves much more. Besides the person stalking showing up unexpectedly or uninvited at places the person being stalked spends time, stalking also includes any unwanted contact. This may be in the form of text or social media messages, gifts, approaching the person’s family or friends, damaging the person’s property, or threatening the person.

Who Can Experience Stalking?

The answer is anyone.

Highest rates of stalking happen between the ages of 18 and 24.

One in six women will experience stalking at some point in their life. I first heard this statistic in a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training as a senior in college. It was followed by the chilling illustration that since there were about 10 of us girls sitting in the room, it was likely one of us would experience it. This turned out to be true, as I had been stalked two years earlier, as a sophomore.

About 1 in 17 men will also be stalked in their lifetime.

Who Does the Stalking?

Most people are stalked by someone they know. While this does include exes, they may be stalked by an acquaintance or a family member as well.

But What They’re Experiencing Doesn’t Seem Like a Big Deal

Something that seems harmless to you may be terrifying to someone experiencing stalking.

That gift you think is so romantic? It might signal to the recipient that a stalker now knows where they live or work.

That behavior you would classify as annoying but not really a big deal? It may be a part of an escalating behavior pattern that has left the affected person fearing where this is going and what will happen next. Remember the part of the definition that it causes fear in a reasonable person? It is important to understand why the person is scared.

receiving understanding and compassion from you will mean the world to them

It is likely that someone being stalked will sense being dismissed by those around them, so receiving understanding and compassion from you will mean the world to them.

When I was stalked, I revisited campus security because what they promised to do had not been done. They implied that I should be forgiving and just let it go. I’m thankful that God brought friends, family, some close faculty, and a chaplain to support me through the process. I wouldn’t have been as assertive without their support.

But They Don’t Seem Scared

This can be confusing. At Door of Hope, we talk about feeling defenses, which are emotions exhibited in place of the core feeling. For example, someone being stalked may appear angry when they’re actually scared.

There are other behaviors that may reveal if someone is being stalked. For example, do they go out of their way to avoid certain locations or change their appearance? Look for behaviors that demonstrate a fear of someone, even if the one being stalked seems angry or irritated.

Action Steps

1.     Making a change starts with awareness of stalking and becoming informed. SPARC is a great resource for more information.

2.     Then educate those around you. Talk with your friends and family, start a campaign on your college campus, etc.

3.     Know the signs and be someone that can be turned to in a stalking situation. The one being stalked will need someone who strives to understand their fear rather than brush it off as “no big deal.”

My Story

Although stalking was something I went through, it is not my identity. I have experienced God’s healing and am finding my identity in Him. His perfect love is casting out my fear (1 John 4:18) and is continuously renewing and restoring me.

My story is not unique, as God’s healing love is available to all. At Door of Hope we see Jesus bring healing every day.  If you, or someone you know, is being stalked and needs help, feel free to contact me at gabby@doorofhopeministries.org or 763-767-2150.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month [Free PDF Download]

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Graphic

According to the CDC, every year 1 out of 10 of our nation’s high schoolers experience physical violence from a dating partner.

1 out of 10 every year...

Chances are your teen or a teen you know, has been assaulted sexually or physically, or has committed teen dating violence.

What is Teen Dating Violence?

Teen dating violence includes not only physical and sexual abuse, but also emotional abuse between teenage dating partners.

Although emotional abuse is often dismissed by adults, it often carries the most long-term effects on the well-being of the victim.

Common emotionally abusive tactics include: name-calling, isolating from friends/family, body shaming, stalking, and controlling social media and communication.

What are the Ramifications?

To name just a few...

  • Criminal convictions
  • To cope, victims are more likely to begin self-destructive behaviors like taking drugs, drinking, smoking, doing poorly in school, promiscuous behavior, physical fights, attempting suicide
  • Teen dating violence is often a precursor to a violent home later in life, for both parties

What To Do?

  • Make this month, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, the month you begin a conversation with your teen
  • Learn more at: teendvmonth.org, loveisrespect.org, and many other helpful websites
  • Look for these signs of dating abuse: extreme mood swings, poor grades, isolation from friends and family, unexplained bruises or scratches, sexual activity
  • Provide the loving support and listening ear they need and then offer them ways to heal from abuse and have healthy dating relationships. Our Hope-Filled Teens Support Group is an excellent place to find healing and learn new relationship skills. Our next group starts March 20th. Learn more at doorofhopeministries.org/events

If you’re wanting to help a teen, a $45 donation will sponsor one 13-18 year old for 9 weeks in our Hope-filled Teen Support Group. To keep the group easily accessible to teens, we rely on your donations to fund the group. Donate at doorofhopeministries.org/donate. Thank you!

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