BANGOR – While February marks the month of love, it also represents a topic less talked about. Many teens dating in the country have experienced some form of abuse. This month opens that conversation with National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and what people can do if they or a loved are stuck in an abusive relationship. People can be seen wearing the color orange to support victims across the country.
“1 in 3 young adults will experience abuse in their dating lives until the age of 19,” said Adriana Hopkins, a prevention and awareness educator for the Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance.
And with social media, that number continues to increase.
“Abuse is defined as a pattern of behavior used to gain and maintain control and power over someone,” she said.
About 1.5 million teens in the country admit to being intentionally hit or physically harmed by someone they are romantically involved with. But abuse does not always have to be physical and many forms are still a crime.
“It could be be stalking, harassment,” said Police Chief, Chris Greeley at the Holden Police Department, “It could be assault or disorderly conduct. If you vandalize their car, it’s criminal mischief.”
But how can you identify whether you or a loved one are in an abusive relationship?
“Signs of depression, isolation, significant changes in their behavior, especially if it’s associated with a new relationship – there could be a problem,” he said.
Over 70 percent of teens know someone in abusive relationships, but only a few seek help.
“The problem with teenagers, is sometimes what they do, is they go to other teenagers, which may not be the best source,” said Greeley.
Those who remain in abusive relationships are more prone to future issues such as, alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide, and violent behavior. Students are encouraged talk to a trusted adult whether it’s a parent, friend, guidance counselor or even a police officer.
“Their jobs are to make sure students in those schools are safe and provided for,” said Hopkins, “One thing they work on with us, is to make sure protection from abuse orders are appropriately and properly administered and supported in the school systems.”
Adults are more likely to make something happen or file legal documents.
“It also gives us the ability to intervene at an early stage,” she said, “At that point it doesn’t become part of a cycle. It just becomes a first step at ending abuse in the future and recognizing how to be supportive to a friend in the future.”
If you’re looking for help or want to help someone you care about, visit HERE.
Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance offers classes and educational resources for those in need. As well as, a 24-hour Hotline number: 800 – 863 – 9909.