February Is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month
How many of you are familiar with the Chris Brown assault upon his girlfriend Rhianna? Chris Brown and Rhianna are two pop stars, who made national headlines when Chris beat Rhianna after they fought over a text message from another girl. Regardless of how angry he got her, he had no right to hit her; and he should have walked away when he got that angry. How do you think he should have responded to this situation? Since this was not the first time he had beaten her, why do you think she stayed? What do you think she could have done to prevent the abuse from her partner? According to some teens they feel this is common in relationships, and unfortunately, this has become there comfort zone. Statistics show that one in three teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship. In dating violence, one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse.
If you will look around your classroom, church, auditorium, or any public setting and think of these statistics, as you take a mental snapshot of your classmates. One in three girls are sexually assaulted before the age 18 and one of six boys; and that is only the ones who have reported it. 90% of sexually assaulted children never report it. They don’t report being raped by an abuser, a family member, their partner, or a stranger because of shame, feeling dirty, wondering what they did to deserve it, they don’t want to break up the family, feel like no one will believe them, or does not want to get the abuser in trouble. This also allows the perpetrator to hurt someone else because they don’t stop, seldom change w/o counseling, and you can’t fix them.
Regardless of age, Teen and adult abusive partners will demonstrate some of the following classic abusive behaviors:
At first they shower you with a lot of affection, gifts, and love. Then they become very
- Controlling what you say; who you talk to; where you go; and how you dress
- excessively texts you
- belittling you in front of friends and family
- Hitting you; leaving bruises and cuts
- verbally abusing you
- isolating you from friends and family
- emotional outburst
- uses force in arguments
- always blames others for their mistakes and faults
- sexually assaults you
- ·believe their partners are their possession; then they become obsessed with them, which can lead to stalking:
- ·Stalking is the willful and repeated following, watching, and / or harassing of another person. Most of the time, the purpose of stalking is to attempt to force a relationship with someone who is unwilling or otherwise unavailable. Unlike other crimes, which usually involve one act, stalking is a series of actions that occur over a period of time. Although stalking is illegal, the actions that contribute to stalking are legal, such as gathering information, calling someone on the phone, sending gifts, emailing or instant messaging. Such actions by themselves are not usually abusive, but can become abusive when frequently repeated over time. http://law.findlaw.com/state-laws/stalking/louisiana/
|Willful, malicious, and repeated following or harassing with intent to place in fear of death or bodily injury.|
|Punishment/Classification||Maximum 1 year jail and $1000 fine. If had dangerous weapon: fine $1,000 and/or jail 1 year. If stalking and protective order for same victim, or criminal proceeding for stalking victim or injunction: jail 90 days minimum and 2 years maximum and/or fined maximum $5,000. If victim under 18, maximum 1 year and/or $2000 fine. Note: anyone over 13 who stalks a child 12 and under and is found to have placed child in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury of family member shall be punished by 1 year minimum, 3 years maximum in jail and/or $1,500 minimum, $5,000 maximum fine|
|Penalty for Repeat Offense||If 2nd within 7 years: jail minimum 180 days and maximum 3 years and/or fined maximum $5,000. If 3rd or subsequent within 7 years: jail minimum 2 years and maximum 5 years and/or fined maximum $5,000|
Abusers will try to isolate you from your family, do not let them. If you find yourself or someone you know in an abusive relationship talk to a teacher, family member, pastor, counselor, or call the FACSA Foundation. The important thing is to tell.
So how do young men and young women get involved partner, when they should know better and leave? Out of 6 billion people in the world, why do we fall in love with the partners we choose? You can walk into a room of people and may find many attractive, but there will be one who captivates your interest more than the others because of pheromones. Your nose emits odorless chemicals called pheromones that peeks your interest around a certain individual. Guys like to impress girls with their status, wit, charm, physical appearance, humor, and talents. While ladies like to impress the guys by twirling their fingers in their hair, batting their eyes, acting sweet and charming, or pretending to be interested in something they could care less about. Now guys, this does not mean you can put your sweaty armpits in the girl’s faces to make them fall madly in love with; this will probably get you hit a few times.
Another factor, besides being a hormonal teenager, is the fact that, as we grow up, we watch our parents every day. We see them laugh together, love each other, or we see them argue with one another, cheat on one another, lie to each other, or be abusive to each other; and this imprint becomes our comfort zone and the model of our future relationships. We say I will never be like my mother or I will never be like my dad, but subconsciously we choose our first loves that have tendencies like our parents because this is our comfort zone. It isn’t until we get older, with more experience, for us to realize what kind of relationship is a healthy relationship and find a person who loves us, as we are, with flaws and all. Because when it comes down to it, you will never change them, you cannot fix them, they will not get better, and abuse only escalates. You cannot love enough for two; nor can you make it work by yourself. You deserve to be loved and accepted as you are; and you have to pass on others until you find a partner who can do that. Not everyone will fit into the mold you fantasize as your soul mate; and trying to make them into what you want will only lead to a lot of heart of ache. If you are dating an abusive partner, regardless of how much you love them, you have to ask yourself, is this someone I would want to have children with. Would I want my children to be yelled at and belittled for every little thing they do wrong? Your children deserve better than that; you deserve better than that. If you have someone in your life that is physically and verbally abusive to you, you need to tell your family, a teacher, a counselor, the FACSA Foundation, or an adult who will listen; and keep telling until someone listens. Abused friends and family will demonstrate the following behaviors:
- Their partner controls what they say; who they talk to; where they go; and how they dress
- They may/will be manipulated with money by their abuser
- Their partner will make them fearful by actions or looks
- Hitting them; leaving bruises and cuts
- verbally abusing them
- be isolated from friends and family
- will take up for abuser; and may mention their abuse but laugh it off as a joke
- they will try to please the abuser in anyway, but nothing will ever please them
- believe they are their partners possession
- Is always blamed for their partners mistakes and faults
- Has been sexually assaults by their partner
- Know the facts about relationship abuse.
- Give assurance that you believe your friend’s story.
- Listen and let her share her feelings.
- Do not judge or give advice. Talk about available options and resources.
- Physical safety is the first priority. If you believe a friend is in danger, voice that concern. Help create a safety plan.
- Respect your friend’s right to confidentiality.
- Say that you care and want to help.
- Don’t be upset if your friend doesn’t react the way you think she should. Let her talk about the caring aspects of the relationship as well. People who are being controlled by their partner’s behavior must consider many factors before coming to a conclusion about how to access safety. Let her make her own decisions and support her throughout the process.
- Give clear messages, including:
- Your actions do not cause the abuse.
- You are not to blame for your partner’s behavior.
- You cannot change her partner’s behavior.
- Apologies and promises are a form of manipulation.
- You are not alone.
- Abuse is not loss of control; it is a means of control.
- It is helpful to provide support to survivors. However, there are some forms of advice that are not useful and even dangerous for them to hear:
- Don’t tell them what to do, when to leave or when not to leave.
- Don’t tell them to go back to the situation and try a little harder.
- Don’t rescue them by trying to find quick solutions.
- Don’t suggest you try to talk to the abusive partner to straighten things out.
- Don’t place yourself in danger by confronting the abuser.
- Don’t tell them they should stay for the sake of the children.
- Never recommend couples counseling in situations of emotional or physical abuse. It is dangerous for the victim and will not lead to a resolution.
- Encourage separate counseling for the individuals, if they want counseling.
Adapted from EWA, Canada
How to Help a Friend Who is a Sexual Assault Survivor
When talking to a survivor of sexual assault, here are some key ideas to keep in mind:
- Validation: Accept what you hear. Many survivors fear they will not be believed. They are afraid that their experience will be minimized as “not important” or made into a catastrophe. Let the survivor state her or his views, feelings, beliefs, and opinions. Do not be judgmental.
- Empowerment: Allow survivors to direct their own course of action, no matter how much you think your idea would help them. An assault takes away the victim’s power and control over their self and situation; regaining that sense of control helps the survivor in the recovery process.
- Information: Present survivors with resources and available options. Initially, the victim may be so overwhelmed that it is impossible for them to hear everything. Be patient and willing to repeat yourself. Respect the person’s decision as to what to do.
- Privacy: Assure survivors that you will keep the matter private. Explain that you may need to consult with resources to understand how to help her. If total anonymity is necessary, you and/or the survivor may get information and support without revealing your names.
- Listen: Let survivors disclose as much about the assault as they are comfortable with. Do not press for details, as this can feel intrusive and controlling.
In responding to the survivor use the same words she or he does in describing the event. If the survivor uses the word “rape,” then use it in reflective listening. If the survivor uses the expression “something bad happened,” stay with that. Be empathetic, non-judgmental, and help the survivor feel safe. Avoid labeling the experience for them. Remember, survivors may feel guilty and responsible. You can reassure them that no one deserves to be assaulted and it was not their fault. Be particularly sensitive if a survivor has special needs based on ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and/or disability.
Even though it should never occur, the fact is dating violence and abuse happens every day, regardless of education or the lack thereof, rich or poor, race, or religion. People do not leave because they are afraid to; they are mentally and physically beaten down; or feel they have nowhere to turn.
- If you have been abused by your partner, or you know someone who has you can call for resources:
- the FACSA Foundation (318) 540-4464; or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- the National Dating Abuse Hotline 1 (866) 331-9474
- loveisrespect.org is a new 24 hour resource that utilizes telephone and web-based interactive technology to reach teens and young adults experiencing dating abuse. The Helpline numbers are: (866) 331-9474 and TTY (866) 331-8453. The peer to peer online individual chat function is available from 4 p.m. to midnight and can be accessed from the website.
- Local Police
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1(800) 799-7233
If you plan on leaving, make a safe exit:
- Know the phone number of a safe house or a local women’s battered shelter
- Tell someone you trust and develop a plan; use code words if you are in trouble. A visual sign could be if the light is on it is safe; if the light is off you are in trouble
- Go to a doctor if you are injured and report the incident
- Do not go back to the abuser; your life could be at risk and no love is worth that.
- File a report and let the charges stick; regardless of the partner’s threats
- Reassure children of a safe place and their job is not to protect you.
- Keep the car fueled, money hidden, cell charged, and evacuation plan ready
- Pack a bag and hide it if necessary, with important documents, like social security numbers, birth certificates, medical information, marriage license, extra car keys, car title, banking information, important phone numbers, shoes, clothes, and toiletry items; maybe the kids favorite toy, to calm them.
- Know abusers schedule and a safe time to leave
- Erase you internet search history and be careful who you reach out to
- If you call for help, immediately dial another number right after that, so the abuser will not know who you called last.
If you leave:
- Change your routine
- keep your doors locked
Keep a certified copy of your restraining order with you at all times. (6 months max; can get a $500 fine or imprisonment)
- Install security systems in your new place
- Get a P O Box
- Get caller id
- Avoid going to where the abuser is, when possible. If necessary, carry protectors with you like law enforcement.
You don’t deserve to be treated this way; you do deserve to be valued as a person, listened to without being yelled at, criticized, or judged; and you deserve to be loved. Despite what you think that person is bringing to your life, they are actually taking more than they offer. You can’t afford to trade yourself, your self -esteem, or possibly, your life for what you have them? You have to learn to value yourself as a person, respect yourself despite your mistakes; and know today is a new day to start fresh. Learn to protect yourself and make better choices for your life; because every choice you make, regardless of how small, will affect the rest of your life. Every action becomes a behavior; and a behavior becomes who you are. There will be times in your life where you will have to take a good hard look at your life; and change what you don’t like about it.
I will close with a quote from Jim Rohn, “If you don’t make a plan for your life, chances are, you will fall into someone else’s; and guess what they have planned for you; not much!”
Connie Lee/FACSA Foundation/Founder/President
The Dating Bill of Rights according to the ACADV http://www.acadv.org/dating.html
The Dating Bill of Rights
I Have The Right To:
Even if my date is
Excited about them
And be able to express
Is wrong and their
Actions are inappropriate.
I need affection
For any reason
Space aside from
I Have The Responsibility Too
To determine whether they are
Good or bad for me