Teen dating violence at center of month-long campaign in Manistee

MANISTEE COUNTY – In recognition of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, several organizations in the Manistee area are teaming up to reach local college students with the message: Love is the respect.

Throughout February, the newly formed Teen Dating Violence Planning Committee seeks to help educate young people and their loved ones about healthy relationships and provide resources for those who have been abused. .

The key to a healthy relationship starts with respect, said Michol Ludwig, a committee member and outreach specialist with Ottawa’s Little River Band Indian Victim Services Program.

“We always like to take every opportunity we can to let people know what it’s like, and also how technology is affecting relationships for young people today,” Ludwig said, adding that “in none of these abusive situations , it’s not about anger management, it’s about power and control – it’s important.

One of the first steps in addressing the issue of relationship abuse is understanding what it is.

According to a January 31 White House press release, teen dating violence can take many forms, including physical or sexual assault, stalking, behavior control, emotional abuse, stalking, and bullying. operation, and can take place in person and online.

Teen dating violence is a serious problem in the United States, according to advocates like Ludwig, who points to public health data that underscores how often abuse occurs in teen relationships.

Nationally, teen dating violence affects about 10% of all teens between the ages of 12 and 18, according to data from the National Institute of Justice.

Research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also shows that more than 8% of high school students in the United States reported experiencing physical or sexual dating violence in a one-year period – the young women and LGBTQ youth facing the highest rates.

Teen dating violence has serious short- and long-term consequences, says teendvmonth.org.

“While healthy relationships tend to have a positive effect on emotional development and future relationships, abusive relationships often do the opposite,” the website states. “Victims of dating violence are likely to have suicidal thoughts, antisocial behaviors, depression and anxiety, and engage in unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol and drug use. “

Another study by the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence found that “69.5% of women who have been physically or sexually abused or stalked by a romantic partner, first experienced abuse between the ages of 11 and 24.”

Advocates say it’s important to help encourage teens to report their abuse.

In 2020, 1 in 10 American high school students contacted the National Domestic Violence Hotline because they had experienced dating violence, according to information from the Family Crisis Centers.

Unfortunately, many cases go unreported because victims are often afraid to tell their friends and family.

A study by the Violence Against Women Research Consortium found that only 33% of victims of dating violence tell someone about the abuse, most of them telling a friend. The study, published in 2020, also reported that more than 80% of parents either don’t think it’s a problem or admit they don’t know if it is.

“These effects are compounded for girls and young women of color, who are less often recognized as survivors of dating and sexual violence and face additional barriers to seeking help,” part of the release states. the White House.

It’s one of the reasons why committee members at Manistee have started a campaign to provide local students with information on where to go for help.

Throughout February, resources will be made available to schools in the Manistee area, and students are encouraged to wear orange on February 9 to help bring attention to the issue.

“The week of (February 7-11) is Respect Week, so there will be a focus on topics around respecting the people you relate to,” Ludwig said.

In addition to the victim services program, the committee includes members from the Manistee County Human Services Collaborative Body, Cove, West Shore Community College, Staircase Youth Services, Lakeshore Children’s Advocacy Center and Armory Youth Project.

“What we decided as a group was that rather than duplicating our efforts, we would try to come together and form a group that would work together and be able to share ideas, do more and achieve a wider audience,” Ludwig said.

That support is especially important now, Ludwig said, because advocates have struggled to work directly with students in recent years due to COVID-19.

Resources are available for those affected by teen dating violence.

A 24-hour Abuse in Relationships Hotline can be reached at 866-331-9474 and people can text LOVE IS to 22522. Online chat is available at loveisrespect.org. Visit loveisrespect.org for more resources and information on health relationships for young adults.

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