How to Leave an Abusive Relationship
Is Your Daughter Safe: Ending Dating Violence
We're on the road to wiping out teen dating violence for good, and it's all thanks to REDBOOK readers like you. Last December, we shared with you the . Hundreds of you — from 41 states! — wrote in with heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking stories of surviving abuse; of helping a friend or sister or daughter escape abuse; of working to end domestic violence through your jobs or volunteer positions as counselors, nurses, or teachers; and of being a concerned citizen, mother, daughter, or friend. REDBOOK and Liz Claiborne appointed 90 of you as Action Leaders and invited the rest to join the cause — and, boy, have you been working to make things happen. Some of you have worked with senators and the National Foundation for Women Legislators and spoken at press conferences to help get legislation passed. Still more of you have written letters to your local newspapers to raise awareness and educate the public. Here, some of your successes so far:
In Maryland, Action LeaderCarolyn Murraytestified before the House on behalf of the Tween and Teen Dating Violence Education Bill, which was then signed into law; it encourages schools to incorporate dating violence education into grades 7 through 12 health curriculum. Carolyn, 53, helped her daughter, Phylicia, get out of a four-year abusive relationship, and now the two are dedicated to helping others going through the same thing.
In New York, Action LeaderKim Davidson, 47, is working with State Senator George Maziarz and Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte to advocate for the Kari Ann Gorman Act — named for Kim's daughter, who was killed at age 18 by an abusive boyfriend, in 2008. The bill would implement teen dating abuse education in middle and high schools statewide.
Also in New York, Action LeaderStephanie Pistonhas been working with Vera House, a domestic violence shelter in Syracuse, to create a teen dating abuse education program, and she has met with Assemblyman Al Stirpe to discuss implementing a similar program statewide. Stephanie, 42, first opened up about the abuse in her past when she applied to MADE, and she's eager that her children learn early on about healthy relationships.
In Connecticut, Action LeadersCheri Rivard-LentzandMichele Bullockcorresponded with legislators and launched a word-of-mouth campaign to build support for a bill to include teen dating violence education in their state's public schools. Cheri also spoke at a press conference; the legislation is pending. A licensed marriage and family therapist, Cheri, 38, has four children, ages 2 to 11; she wants to ensure that kids learn about dating abuse before they enter high school. Michele, 40, feels lucky to be alive, having escaped an abusive relationship in her teens. Now she's a licensed counselor and has worked with both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.
We are incredibly proud of these amazing accomplishments! Still, there are more battles to fight to protect our teens from abuse. The current stats are frightening: Nearly half of teen girls who have been in a relationship say they've been victims of controlling behaviors by their boyfriends, and more than half of all tweens (11 to 14 years old) say they know friends who have been verbally abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Here's what teens need from us now:
Fewer than one in three teens have talked to parents about dating abuse in the past year, compared with more than six out of 10 who have talked about drugs, alcohol, or sex. And less than one third of those who have been in an abusive relationship confided in a parent about it.
...ESPECIALLY IN TOUGH TIMES
Of the teens whose families have gone through economic problems this past year, 44 percent report witnessing abusive behavior between their parents. And 67 percent of those same teens have experienced some form of dating abuse (versus 45 percent of those who haven't witnessed abuse between their parents).
Sixty-three percent of parents whose children have been in a relationship say dating abuse has not been a problem for their teens, but they're out of the loop: 67 percent of parents aren't aware when their teen experiences controlling behavior, 88 percent don't know when they are victims of verbal abuse, and 90 percent aren't aware when they experience sexual or physical abuse.
Eighty-four percent of parents believe that schools should provide dating education, but only 30 percent say their child's school currently offers such programs — the kinds of programs MADE is advocating nationwide.
...FOR PARENTS, TOO
Although 82 percent of parents say they feel confident they could recognize the signs if their child were experiencing dating abuse, 58 percent could not correctly identify all the warning signs (find them at loveisnotabuse.com/signsofdatingabuse). And 37 percent of parents are unaware of any resources to help them have a conversation with their teen about dating abuse.
Source: Liz Claiborne Inc. and Family Violence Prevention Fund 2009 study of teens (ages 13 to 18) who have dated and parents of teens
What You Can Do to Help This Minute
Join the thousands of women making an impact by hopping on the MADE bandwagon at loveisnotabuse.com/MADE. Sign the MADE petition to support legislation that will guarantee teen dating abuse education in schools. Learn about how to take action within your state and connect with other advocates. You can also follow MADE on Facebook or Twitter at "MADEcoalition" to network with other members and receive updates about MADE's progress and accomplishments.
Let's Talk About Dating Violence
75 percent of parents say they've had a conversation with their teen about what it means to be in a healthy relationship, but 66 percent of daughters and 74 percent of sons say they havenotdiscussed dating abuse with a parent in the past year.
December 3 marks the sixth annual It's Time to Talk Day, to build awareness about domestic violence. Take a few moments out of your day and join educators, parents, radio hosts, government officials, advocates, and women like you nationwide to talk about relationship abuse. By opening up the conversation, you'll encourage people to get educated about what a healthy relationship looks like, you'll help raise victims' veil of shame, and you'll encourage those who need support to seek it. Four easy ways to start the discussion:
1. Ask your employerto post domestic violence hotline numbers — such as 800-799-7233 for the National Domestic Violence Hotline — in common areas at your office.
2. Urge your local schoolto adopt Liz Claiborne's Love is Not Abuse curriculum.
3. Contact your local domestic violence organizationto find out how you can help.
4. Simply start a conversationwith your friend, sister, or child about healthy relationships.
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