Surely It Won't Happen To Anyone I Know

Each February for the last few years I have dedicated my efforts to National Dating Violence Awareness Month. This started kind of on accident.

A group of high school girls and I were having regular meetings one year, when the TV channel Lifetime came out with a movie about dating violence, to increase awareness and discussion. This movie is called "Reviving Ophelia", based on a book I had read, so I figured we may as well watch it.

Well, as I've discovered, once discussion is opened, there is more going on than meets the eye. The movie does a good job in showing early warning signs of unhealthy relationships before someone escalates to violence. A couple of girls recognized early behaviors in the movie character that looked a lot like people they dated. I was surprised that we had hit on a need just among the small group of girls I knew, therefore I knew this had to be an ongoing topic of awareness.

Each year, I've heard at least 1, sometimes 2, 3 and 4, instances of someone I know who has experienced either unhealthy dating relationships or violence. When we start talking, so do others. It is a conversation we have to have with our kids, girls and boys alike. There are stories of boys who have had abusive behavior coming from girls.

This conversation we must have is also about healthy and unhealthy relationships, how to recognize early signs of abusive behavior before physical violence takes place. There are many warning signs of abusive people that manifest before physical violence takes place.

There are things we can educate ourselves on- patterns and behaviors of dating partners that are not healthy. If we can recognize those early enough, maybe we can help people get out of unhealthy relationships before worse things happen.

Other times we are victims of dating violence with no warning, which is devastating. In those situations, there has to be support, conversation, and understanding to help girls recover.

There is so much to share on the subject. A good beginning is to share this link. President Obama has declared February National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and is making a special effort to decrease violence among college students, where it is so prevalent. You can read this on the link below. is a wonderful resource for advice, quizzes to find out if your relationship is healthy, educational information, promotional materials, as well as how to get help for those in questionable relationships.

I also recommend watching the movie "Reviving Ophelia" with high schoolers and older. Watch it first yourself for content so you can decide on appropriate ages to view it. The movie can be purchased online with a quick google search. It can be found on and even has a study guide that can be downloaded for discussion points.

Get educated. Get help for yourself or for a friend. Be aware so you know what to watch for. Spread the word.

It's so important.

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