Domestic violence. That phrase seems to apply to older people almost inherently, doesn’t it? Domestic meaning of or relating to the home. So, by definition, that means violence that affects families right? Well, yes. And no. But can’t we really just think of domestic violence as something that affects the 30 and older crowd?
Domestic violence is relevant to teens. In fact, domestic violence is relevant to everyone. Not only because it’s one of the most widespread issues affecting Americans, but because domestic violence has a wider definition then one might think.
Let’s start with how we define domestic violence:
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
So you can see how dating abuse falls under domestic violence. Yes, it’s a more formal sounding title, but it still encompasses the experiences of many teens in abusive relationships. Why are we stressing the term domestic violence today? Because it’s October.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). It’s 31 days to remember that everyone deserves a healthy, safe relationship. One month to stress the importance of an issue that affects roughly 1/3 of American teenagers. A reminder of the stats:
– 1 in 3 teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships, including verbal and emotional abuse.i
– 40% of teenage girls, ages 14 to 17, know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by their partner.ii
– Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser. iii
– 1 in 4 teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex or engage in intercourse. Iv
So this month get involved. Stay tuned for ways to make this DVAM count in your community.
Stats courtesy of Break the Cycle: www.breakthecycle.org
i Carolyn Tucker Halpern, Ph.D. et al., “Partner Violence Among Adolescents in Opposite-Sex Romantic Relationships:
Findings From the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.” American Journal of Public Health 91 (2001) 1680.
ii Children Now/Kaiser Permanente “National Poll on Kids Health and Safety,” December 1995.
iii Children Now/Kaiser Permanente “National Poll on Kids Health and Safety,” December 1995.
iv Liz Claiborne Inc. study on teen dating abuse conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited, February 2005.