Sexting, sexual harassment and domestic violence are all, in one form or another abuse. It cuts across all demographics and, when it comes to prominent figures, can be shrugged off as an “addiction.” What’s most troubling is, in the era of public apologies and subsequent forgiveness, the victims also seem to forgive and forget too quickly. It’s all too common for abuse victims to return to the relationship several times before they finally break the cycle.
Yesterday I read that former TV Anchor Rob Morrison and his wife Ashley are back together. This comes only a few months after a domestic violence incident where Rob allegedly choked Ashley while he was intoxicated. Rob is participating in court-mandated therapy and Ashley is apparently telling some friends “the incident never happened.” While this very well may be the case, it’s extremely common for abuse victims to recant their stories and even defend the abuser.
Coincidentally a survey also was released yesterday about the prevalence of teen dating abuse. The findings were pretty incredible – more than a third of teen guys and girls say they’ve been physically, emotionally or sexually abused in their dating relationships, according to new, unpublished data from a nationwide survey. Similar numbers of both sexes say they’ve been abusers. Also, the teens who abuse their girlfriends and boyfriends often share a past as middle-school bullies. What I found most surprising was that the group of people who contact the National Dating Abuse Helpline the most are 13-16 year olds. Through this research, it is becoming increasingly clear that dating violence is occurring at a younger age than most people think.
Break the Cycle is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending dating abuse and engaging everyone in promoting health relationships. Their website offers an abundance of information regarding dating violence:
There are many warning signs of dating violence that are important to keep in mind for yourself or a family member or friend. If you notice any of these warning signs in your relationship or in someone else’s, be aware that these may lead to dating violence:
- Checking your cell phone or email without permission.
- Constant put-downs.
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity.
- Explosive temper.
- Isolating you from family or friends.
- Making false accusations.
- Mood swings.
- Physically hurting you in any way.
- Telling you what to do.
It is important to constantly promote safe and healthy relationships at any age. Break The Cycle lists five things that YOU can do to help:
One: Get the Facts
Do you know the warning signs of dating violence and the legal rights available to young people in your state? Well — find out!
Two: Start Talking About Healthy Relationships
Talk with your kids. Your family. Your friends. Your neighbors and your schools. Because it’s never too late to talk about dating abuse.
Three: Speak Out
Use our Valentine’s Anytime Kit to raise awareness in your community. Ask your local media to cover your efforts!
Four: Share Your Status
Five: Be an Advocate
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474. You can also contact 24-hour help by online chat (at loveisrespect.org), or text (text “loveis” to 22522)