February is nationally recognized as teen dating violence awareness and prevention month. According to https://www.itstimetotalkday.org/, 3 in 4 parents have never talked to their children about domestic violence. Also, 1 in 3 teens will experience either physical, sexual, verbal abuse or threats from a dating partner. Many adults who are or were victims of domestic violence were once teens who were victimized in some way. That is why it is extremely important that we talk candidly with teenagers about abuse. It is my belief that the sooner we start talking to our young people about it, the better chances they have of making wiser and more informed decisions about the people they choose to date.
There are a number of reasons why people choose NOT to talk to teens about dating violence. A lot of those same reasons have kept people from talking about it with other adults. Fear, shamefulness, pride, embarrassment, normalcy and a general lack of understanding about abuse are some of the most common reasons. If we are ever going to have any hope whatsoever to break the generational curses that plague our families and ultimately, our communities regarding domestic violence, then we have to be willing to take the blinders off about this subject, open our mouths and start talking about it for the ugly epidemic that it is. If you’re someone that’s currently in a situation and you have children, you are indirectly sending them the wrong message about abuse, what is normal and what is acceptable. As parents and caregivers for our teens, we have to show them a different way. We teach our children that it is wrong for someone to put their hands on them, belittle them or coerce them into doing something that they don’t want to do. Yet, they see the same things happening to us. As they grow, they develop a sense of understanding that abuse is bad when it’s a stranger. But, it’s acceptable and tolerable from someone with whom I have romantic ties.
We have to be open and honest with our teens. Share your stories. Provide them with resources and options. Help them to understand their self worth at an early age. If you’re currently in an abusive situation, then consider the fact that you, too, need to plan an exit strategy and recognize that you’re worth more. I will be sharing more on this topic in the days ahead. I want people to read this and start thinking about preventative measures to help our teens to know and understand more about what domestic violence actually is and how to prevent it from happening to them or someone they know.