February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
It could be easy to brush it off and think "Oh, thank goodness that doesn't apply to anyone I know!" But I beg you to read on, if not for yourself, than to be educated, for the sake of all the people you know and influence.
Dating violence sounds extreme, and it can be. And we would hope rare. But it does happen.
However, there are many smaller signs leading up to potential violence that our kids need to recognize. I have found that smaller signs of pretty unhealthy behavior is alarmingly common. It may not be a physical abuse yet, but it's a sign of potential trouble down the road.
We need to put some standards out there of what should be expected and what's not acceptable in dating relationships.
My eyes have been opened after discussing this topic among girls. After going over warning signs of potentially dangerous relationships, I've heard, "Ohhhhhh...my boyfriend kind of does that...." (some of the more stalker type stuff). I've heard of girls covering bruises with makeup. I've had girls recognize that their boyfriends were just controlling, but when they found out that's not normal, they reconsidered the relationship and got out.
Unfortunately dating abuse does happen. And it doesn't have to be physical. Being treated in a very controlling way, taking you from family and friends, demanding to know where you are and who you're with 24 hours a day, are all signs of a danger zone ahead.
Then there are just unhealthy relationships that may not be dangerous, but just aren't good.
Some teens don't know this. We need to tell them. What's obvious to us may not be obvious to them. I'm happy to say some girls that learned these are bad signs broke up with guys. A little education can go a long way.
And sometimes it's the girls who are abusive, controlling or unhealthy. My first year of marriage we lived in an apartment under a violent couple. It was the cute little twenty something girl that beat her boyfriend. This definitely goes both ways. Guys need to be just as aware as girls do, what constitutes a healthy relationship.
January 31, 2012 President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation that February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention month.
At the top this website, click on National Dating Violence Awareness Month, for a ton of good resources and more information (including quizzes and hotlines to text for help).
Throughout this month, I'll be writing on this topic. It will be sporadically placed throughout the month. I'll share a couple of real stories that girls have been willing to share.
I beg you to push through the feeling of wanting to ignore this. Inform yourself. Watch for signs. Talk through this with your kids.
People that act abusively need help and I hope will get it, but the girlfriend or boyfriend is not the one to help them. No matter how many times they apologize. If you find out someone you know faces any of the warning signs we'll talk about this month, SPEAK UP. You have permission to get in their business. They honestly may not know some behaviors are not normal. You may save them.
The last day of this month, we are hosting a COMMUNITY TALK on this topic. A few different people will be sharing info, stories and resources. At the end, for those who can stay (and it's totally worth it!!) the Lifetime movie "Reviving Ophelia" will be shown. This fictional movie is a great visual and discussion starter of the topic of high school dating abuse.
Feb. 28, 2013. 6:30pm. Believers Church 4705 S. Memorial. Females age 13 and up welcome.
And now, a video from www.loveisrespect.org.