As a YWIL program leader and outreach program facilitator, I constantly come in contact with many teenage girls who are trying to identify themselves. Many teens are worried about their education, future college and career goals, prom, SAT/ACT exams, parties, and social media. They also focus on building friendships and even exploring some romantic relationships for the first time. Social media has become a popular tool to help teens create relationships.
To some of us, building relationships via social media is absurd, but with the technological advances in our society, this is something that is very relevant in the lives of the girls that we serve. It is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and we must understand how to educate today’s youth about healthy relationships, considering dating violence can happen as early as adolescence.
Sometimes it’s hard to identify characteristics of an abusive relationship. Some signs are:
• Being pressured into sex or feel that your relationship is moving too fast
• Feeling manipulated because of an insecure partner
• Feeling out of control, because the partner is always in control of every situation
• Experiencing any verbal/written, emotional, and/or physical abuse
If any of these signs are occurring, please use the Girls Inc. Stars of Self-Defense
1. Use your mind to come up with a plan
2. Use your voice and be assertive
3. Get away from any harmful situations
4. Have the courage to tell a trusted adult
Girls testing out their low kick in Bold!
Did you know?
• Dating violence can be physical, emotional/psychological, or sexual
• Dating violence can happen in person or online
• About 1 in 3 women have been a victim of physical violence by an intimate partner
• Dating violence can happen as early as adolescence
• Exposure to violence in the home increases a girl’s chances of later becoming a victim of dating violence and a series of mental health problems.
• Young women experiencing dating violence are likely to suffer long-term negative behavioral and health consequences, including suicide thoughts and attempts, depression and anxiety, antisocial behaviors, and substance abuse.
• About 4 in 5 women who have endured rape, stalking, or physical violence by an intimate partner experience serious physical injury and/or PTSD.
It is so important for parents/guardians, teachers, and community leaders to also be aware of these signs as well as build trust in the teens we serve. As I facilitate programs across the community, many girls reveal that they don’t have adults they can trust, so we have to be open with our teens to make them comfortable to come to us to share any issues they face so we can help them.