You find your teenage daughter crying and sobbing inconsolably in her bedroom. When you finally get your daughter to talk, she tells you that she was raped the night before by her boyfriend. But when you suggest calling the police or a rape crisis center, your daughter adamantly refuses, and says she doesn’t want to talk to anyone. How do you help your daughter?
Did you know that…
- Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
- One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
- One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Nearly half (43%) of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors.
- College students are not equipped to deal with dating abuse – 57% say it is difficult to identify and 58% say they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it.
- One in three (36%) dating college students has given a dating partner their computer, email or social network passwords and these students are more likely to experience digital dating abuse.
- One in six (16%) college women has been sexually abused in a dating relationship.
Domestic violence does NOT have an age limit! Teens and Young Adults are being physically, emotionally and verbally abused by individuals they believe love them. It can start with a push, shove or yelling and escalates to slapping, punching, pushing down stairs, rape, broken limbs and death.
The scenario that I opened this post with from Justice Women is a very common and difficult situation. On the one hand, because rape is a crime that robs a person of their self determination at the most intimate level, the last thing you want to do is force that person to do something else against their will; especially something like trying to make them talk about the rape when they don’t want to talk about it. At the same time, a teenage girl is still a child, and as with all youngsters in crisis, it’s often necessary for adults to step in and take charge for the sake of the youngster’s safety and welfare.
Here is an A & B example of what you should do. Neither of them involve you taking matters into your own hands (physically) although as a Mom that would be my first recourse.
a. Acknowledge this dilemma in words to your daughter. Tell her that you want very much to respect her wishes as to how to handle the rape, but at the same time, as her mother (or father), you need to make sure she is safe and cared for. Throughout the time you’re dealing with your daughter’s rape, repeat this concern for her often and in different ways.
b. Instead of trying to probe and push your daughter for the details of the rape, explore with her whom she would feel most comfortable talking to. Suggest the possibility of talking to someone anonymously over the phone. Ask her what she feels she most needs, and try to fulfill those needs, even if she says she wants to be left alone for a while. Then come back in and talk with her some more. read more
According to Love Is Respect
- Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
- Among female victims of intimate partner violence, 94% of those age 16-19 and 70% of those age 20-24 were victimized by a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.
- The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.
Teen and young adult domestic violence has long lasting effects
- Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence.
- Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get a STI.
- Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide, compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.
- Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
- Eighty-one (81) percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.
- Though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents (58%) could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse.
How can you help if you know a young person who is in an abusive relationship?
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who you think needs help. Tell them you’re concerned for their safety and want to help.
- Be supportive and listen patiently. Acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of their decisions.
- Help your friend recognize that the abuse is not “normal” and is NOT their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.
- Focus on your friend or family member, not the abusive partner. Even if your loved one stays with their partner, it’s important they still feel comfortable talking to you about it.
- Connect your friend to resources in their community that can give them information and guidance. Remember, loveisrespect.org can help.
- Help them develop a safety plan.
- If they break up with the abusive partner, continue to be supportive after the relationship is over.
- Even when you feel like there’s nothing you can do, don’t forget that by being supportive and caring, you’re already doing a lot.
- Don’t contact their abuser or publicly post negative things about them online. It’ll only worsen the situation for your friend.
For more tips on helping a loved one please visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline
Until next time…