Violence in teen relationships is more common than you think

Stephanie Smith, Huckleberry House’s Crime Victim Specialist, reacts to a violent assault on a local 15-year old by her ex-boyfriend. 

Huckleberry House offers our support of this strong young woman and her family on the difficult road to healing. This story is tragic, heart-breaking, and shocking. However, for many teenagers and young women, the story of a relationship marked by violence, fear, and control is far too common. Statistics show that 1 in 3 women will experience some form of physical abuse in their lifetime and thatwomen between the ages of 18 to 24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner (http://ncadv.org/statistics).

Oftentimes, society views domestic violence as acts of physical violence, a stabbing or shooting, or someone with a black eye. The reality is that abuse often begins with emotional abuse or controlling tendencies. If you think that you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, reach out to one of the resources listed below or take the healthy relationship survey at https://www.loveisrespect.org/healthy-relationship-quiz-text

We need a community response to truly prevent tragic stories like the one seen in the news yesterday

–and as we work to support survivors and their loved ones. How can you make an impact? Believe young people sharing experiences of abuse or control in their relationships. Connect them with resources like safe shelter, advocacy, and counseling through agencies such as Huckleberry House (614-294-5553), CHOICES (24 hour hotline:614-224-4663) or the Center for Family Safety and Healing (614-722-8212).

Empower young people to make decisions about their relationships while working for their safety and providing support and education. Point out abusive or unhealthy acts in the relationship but do not call the abusive partner names. Remember that the survivor may have loving and complicated feelings towards the abusive person, even following incidents of violence. Take care of yourself when helping someone in an abusive relationship and reach out for support when needed. Be patient; statistics show that it takes five to seven times for a survivor to leave an abusive partner before they leave indefinitely.

Know that the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is during the time ending the relationship and immediately following. Ending the relationship often seems to be the best way to end the violence according to friends and family; however, this can be dangerous and even deadly for a survivor. Make a safety plan with a survivor to help them stay safe whether or not they have contact with the abusive partner. Trust the survivor and that they know how their partner or ex-partner may react better than anyone. No one deserves to feel unsafe or disrespected in a relationship. We can all work together to support our young people!

Post written by Stephanie Smith. Stephanie has been our Crime Victim Specialist for three years. She works with young people to create safety plans, attends court hearings, advocates for our clients in the justice system, and conducts group sessions for survivors of domestic violence. To see Stephanie’s comments on 10TV, click here.