February is Teen Domestic Violence Awareness month. Domestic violence is unfortunately a regularly accruing act of violence in society and yet it’s long lasting and devastating impacts are often under spoken about on a societal level.
Domestic violence is not something that happens to only a certain group or type of person, it’s universal, and for approximately one third of teens it is a reality. Teen domestic violence is some times over looked or “explained away” because of age, “growing pains”, or can be viewed as normal to some young people. When Rihanna was psychically attacked by then boyfriend Chris Brown many young people, approximately 50% in a Boston survey
, made flippant and harrowing comments about how it was Rihanna’s fault that she was attacked because she must have done something to deserve it.
Oprah Winfrey and Tyra Banks had an episode of the Oprah show in which they discussed domestic violence and had high school students join them via video. One of the high school students stated that many teens do not view domestic violence as the serious situation that it is and that students would say they were “going to Chris Brown” (physically attack) one another as if it was a joke. [The high school students join in around the 1:40 mark]
Domestic violence in the teenage years has long last effects that can and will stay with both survivors and abusers for the rest of their lives.
Experiencing dating violence when teens began to date can be an isolating, scary, and confusing time for young people. The pressure of being a “good boyfriend or girlfriend” can potentially lead to not addressing the violence you are experiencing or telling some one about it for fear of judgment and retaliation. Furthermore, there is no real curriculum in schools that addresses what healthy dating is versus an unhealthy relationships so young people are left with little to no real point of accurate information to help them better understand and be able to identify what is abuse and what is not abuse.
While Teen Domestic Violence awareness month comes to a close it is important to remember especially while working with and for young people that we must address domestic violence in youth as the serious and some times lethal problem that it is.