Raising Awareness of Teen Dating Violence
family and youth advocate shares tips on safe relationships
(Trigger warning: Abuse)
The month of cute chubby cupids, heart-shaped arrows, and puppy love is also the month set aside as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. The Bridge to Hope, a nonprofit resource center in Menomonie, encourages all families to have tough conversations with young people about teen dating violence to ensure teens are in safe and healthy relationships.
According to statistics from Urban Milwaukee, one in four Wisconsin youth in a relationship say they have been called names, harassed, or put down by their partner through mobile devices. Two in three Wisconsin youth who were in an abusive relationship never told anybody.
“I encourage all parents and schools to talk to teens about these warning signs,” said Family and Youth Advocate Alyssa Fahrenkamp. “Making sure teens are knowledgeable so they can look for these signs and know who to turn to is vital.”
Signs of abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual. Examples of abuse include:
- Public humiliation
- Threatening suicide
- Accusing partner of cheating
- Pressure or forcing sexual relations
- Restricting birth control
- Forcing a partner off of birth control
- Unwanted kissing or touching
- Unwanted pictures
- Speaking or texting in a sexually explicit way
“I am a listening ear and their support when they need someone free and confidential to talk to,” Fahrenkamp said. “We can create safety plans if they are currently in, ready to leave, or recovering from an abusive relationship.”
Fahrenkamp hosts teen groups to encourage conversations about challenging topics like teen abuse with people of similar ages. For more information, visit facebook.com/thebridgetohope. For more information about the national campaign, visit loveisrespect.org, a website operated by the National Domestic Violence Hotline.