ELLSWORTH — Dating is supposed to be part of growing up but teen dating violence shouldn’t be.
Officials from an Ellsworth and Machias-based non-profit called Next Step are sharing insights to help teenagers.
It’s a problem that’s more common than many realize.
According to federal statistics, one in three teens will experience dating violence, and one in five female and one in 10 male students have experienced sexual or physical dating abuse in the past 12 months.
“One of the benefits of having a viewpoint where we look at domestic violence as power and control and choice, because if you are making a choice to abuse you can also make the choice to not abuse,” said Next Step Executive Director Dorathy Martel.
Martel said she noticed recently that more men are recognizing their abuse.
“Young men 18 to 19, some of them who have already committed offenses have been sent to batterer intervention programs,” Martel said.
To Martel, it’s essential to get to the source, the abuser.
“Not only can we talk about what’s healthy and what isn’t but help people change their own behavior,” she said.
Next Step has designed tools to help victims who make the decision to reach out for help.
“In the tool kit that we created, we have information sheets, like a tip series sheet that tells students what some of the warnings signs could be of someone abusing them as well as a recommended book list that came from advocates from all across the state, and the books are for young adults,” said Cheyenne Robinson-Bauman, education and prevention advocate at Next Step.
She said she wants people who need help to reach out to the 24/7 helpline at 1-800-315-5579.
If you know someone or may suspect that a person is experiencing teen dating violence, or is in a time of crisis, visit www.nextstepdvproject.org.