October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As an organization that works with children who have experienced or witnessed – or both – physical, sexual and emotional abuse, Methodist Family Health understands the long-lasting damage this violence has on children, their families, friends, teachers and community. Because domestic violence isn’t something people want to acknowledge is taking place, more people than we realize are being hurt and continuing these patterns while dating. For example, did you know that more than 50 percent of women and men who have been physically abused or stalked by a dating partner first experienced physical, sexual, emotional or a combination of this abuse between the ages of 11 and 24?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Kids often think some behaviors, like teasing and name-calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship. However, these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence.
Dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner. Dating violence is widespread with serious long-term and short-term effects. Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family.
As kids develop emotionally, they are heavily influenced by experiences in their relationships. Healthy relationship behaviors can have a positive effect on a kid’s emotional development. Unhealthy, abusive or violent relationships can have severe consequences and short- and long-term negative effects on a developing child. Youth who experience dating violence are more likely to experience:
- Symptoms of depression and anxiety;
- Engagement in unhealthy behaviors, such as tobacco and drug use, and alcohol;
- Involvement in antisocial behaviors; and
- Thoughts about suicide.
Additionally, youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college.
Methodist Family Health has professionals, services and resources available to help kids, teens and adults cope with domestic violence, including dating abuse. If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the following warning signs, contact us immediately for help:
- Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission from the person you are dating;
- Extreme jealousy or insecurity;
- Constant belittling or put-downs;
- Explosive temper;
- Isolation from family and friends;
- Making false accusations;
- Constant mood swings towards you;
- Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way;
- Telling someone what to do; and
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex.
Call Methodist Family Health any time for free at 866-813-3388 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help.