An alarming 40 percent of teens – both male and female – have experienced physical, emotional, psychological or sexual violence while dating, and the consequences of an abusive relationship can last a lifetime. Dating violence puts teens at greater risk for the same patterns of violence later on in life. Victims are more likely to struggle in school, suffer from depression or turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping. It’s time for us to come together and break the cycle of violence that burdens too many of our children.
While young women ages 16 to 24 are at the highest risk, dating violence can affect anyone. However, only 33 percent of teens who were in an abusive relationship have ever told anyone about the abuse, and although 82 percent of parents feel confident that they would know if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority could not correctly identify all the warning signs. It’s vital that we learn the risk factors and warning signs. Dating violence often involves a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power or control over a partner including monitoring, isolating or insulting a partner, extreme jealousy, insecurity or possessiveness and any type of physical violence or unwanted sexual contact.
Here in the Hudson Valley, we have access to outstanding organizations that work hard to reduce teen dating violence and support its victims through outreach programs and counseling. Grace Smith House is currently working with students, faculty and parents in all 13 school districts in Dutchess County. The Family Partnership Center in Poughkeepsie works with local colleges and high schools to address resources and bystander intervention. By teaching students how to recognize the red flags of an abusive relationship and how to help a friend who may be struggling with dating violence, these local organizations are working to promote healthy relationships. Grace Smith House’s 24-hour hotline is available to Dutchess County residents at 845-471-3033and the Family Partnership’s 24-hour Domestic Violence hotline is 845-485-5550. Community Action of Greene and Columbia County’s 24-hour hotline is available to Columbia County residents at 518-943-9211. Anyone who feels unsafe in their relationship can also call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 866-331-9474.
As a longtime advocate for women and girls, I’ve worked for decades with partners like Girls Inc., the New York Women’s Foundation and the Dutchess Girls Collaborative to end abuse and violence against women and girls. There are many unseen victims of relationship violence and Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month serves as an important reminder that we all have a role in preventing violence against our kids. To that end I’ve sponsored an Assembly resolution recognizing February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Raising awareness and learning the warning signs can help us protect the ones we love.
For more information on different types or signs of abuse, or for tips on how to help a friend or loved one who may be suffering, visit: loveisrespect.org. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact my office at 854-454-1703 or firstname.lastname@example.org.