Hi, Rachel and Nicole here. During our training, we debunked a lot of myths about domestic violence. Most of the facts really scared us for the callers and chatters experiencing domestic violence firsthand, but some were more surprising than others. Here are a few things we didn’t know before training. Did you know these facts?
- Age isn’t just a number. Studies suggest that between 3.5 and 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually. While it is obviously traumatic for any child to witness domestic violence, children exposed during the first few years of development are likely to demonstrate higher levels of emotional and psychological distress than older children. This surprised us because it seems like younger children would not yet understand what is going on, but they are at a more impressionable state in life and a violent environment is incredibly harmful for their development.
- Teens are more at risk than adults. A 2006 Liz Claiborne Foundation study found that teenagers have a higher risk of domestic violence than adults, though there are less available resources. Teens have often never been educated about healthy relationships and are coerced into abusive situations without knowledge of red flags or how to get help. We agreed that teens should be made aware of dating abuse prevention and healthy relationship promotion to help them recognize an unhealthy relationship before it becomes abusive.
- The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the abused partner tries to leave. This was not what we expected either, but it does make sense. Think about it- if you’re an abuser who has been controlling your partner for the past six months, and then your partner leaves. The abuser is willing to do anything to get that control back. We watched this video that really brought home this point. It takes, on average, seven attempts to leave before a partner leaves their abuser for good and this is part of the reason why.
- Pregnant women are twice as likely to be abused by their partner. There was silence in our training room after this statistic was read. The reason may be that an abuser knows the pregnant woman can’t leave as easily or he or she might need an outlet for the stress of having a baby on the way.
- Less than 25 percent of teens say that they have discussed dating violence with their parents. Dating abuse is way more prevalent than we had thought, and parents obviously don’t know this either. Many times, one of our advocates is the first person a teen has spoken to if they’re in an unhealthy relationship. We’re always here, but parents can help us by talking with their teens about healthy relationships.
Now that we have finished training, we are practically certified in domestic violence and dating abuse awareness. Is there anything you would like to know?
If you or a friend may be in an unhealthy relationship, there is an advocate waiting to answer your call or chat.