Empowering Local Teens with Dating Violence Information and Conversations
by Leah Wicevic
Director of Administration and Operations
Today’s teenagers face many challenges, one of which is teen dating violence. Unfortunately, teen dating violence is more prevalent than ever. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three young women and one in four young men between the ages of 12 and 19 experience physical, emotional, and/or psychological abuse during their dating relationships (ncadv.org).
Sistercare’s Teen Outreach Specialists, Chanta and Brandi, work with teens in our community to educate them about teen dating violence and what it means to be in a healthy relationship. Young people are often new to relationships, more trusting, more impulsive, and may not have learned what healthy boundaries look like.
“Talking to teens about relationship red flags is so important. Sometimes seemingly small issues in the relationship can escalate and turn into big issues,” Brandi says.
Relationship red flags Chanta and Brandi talk to local teens about include:
- You partner checks your phone, social media, and/or email or demands to know your passwords
- Your partner wants to be with you all the time and expresses frustration if you want to spend time away from him/her
- Your partner calls you names and puts you down
- Your partner pressures you into doing things you aren’t comfortable with
- Your partner incessantly calls or texts you
- Your partner needs to know where you are at all times
- Your partner displays anger frequently and in a way that scares you
Chanta and Brandi visit schools, church groups, and civic groups around the Midlands where they have interactive group discussions with teens along with guided presentations. Together they bring a welcoming energy, so teens feel comfortable approaching and connecting with them.
Both Teen Outreach Specialists agree that the “aha” moment is the greatest part of their work. Chanta remarks, “It’s a joyous moment when a teen approaches me after a presentation to say he or she can now see their relationship is abusive and that they will be ending the relationship.”
Chanta and Brandi have seen firsthand that starting the conversation early can have a profound impact on lowering a teen’s chances of experiencing or re-experiencing dating violence.
Sistercare’s Teen Outreach Specialists are always looking for schools and groups to visit. We can make a difference in preventing domestic violence by working together as a community. If you are interested in learning more about Sistercare’s Teen Outreach Program (STOP), please call 803-926-0505.