National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Week

Education, awareness and response: Essential tools to end domestic violence

Thu, 02/14/2008 - 11:30am

Another National Teen Dating Violence and Awareness Week came to a close on Friday, February 8. Across the country schools, youth centers, domestic violence prevention centers, coalitions and councils sent a message: teen dating violence, all forms domestic violence, will not be tolerated.

To continue educating the public, beginning with students, Boothbay Region High School was the venue for “Jake and Caroline” for two performances on Wednesday, February 6 for freshmen, sophomores and juniors.

The senior class attended the performance last spring in the BRHS auditorium.

This year the Region II Maine Children’s Cabinet sponsored the event scheduled through Family Crisis Services.

“Jake and Caroline” is a production of The Young Adult Abuse Prevention Program (YAAPP). It is an interactive theatrical piece for schools and community groups. The primary focus of the pieces are dating violence and bullying.

This cautionary tale depicts the relationship between a controlling verbally, and eventually, physically abusive Jake and Caroline, the young girl he claims to love.

Jake demonstrates his love for Caroline by keeping a watchful eye on where she goes and with whom she goes with until he succeeds in isolating her from friends and getting her fired from jobs.

Effective use of props that include a black umbrella under which Caroline stands that bear Jake’s “terms of endearment”: “whore,” “bitch,” “stupid” and “crazy,” among others.

Jake finally “has” to keep her on a short leash that is attached to his pants pocket — by the end of the show the young woman is in a cage, with a chain around her neck.

Around Caroline’s family Jake is cordial and respectful, just the kind of guy a parent would want their daughter to date.

When Caroline musters the strength and courage to tell Jake she wants to break up with him, he threatens to kill himself.

Following the 30-minute presentation, the actors lead a discussion with the students about warning signs of abuse in a relationship, the dynamics of abuse and intervention.

How closely does “Jake and Caroline” mirror reality?

Let’s take a look at the statistics:

Females ages 16 to 24 are more vulnerable to violence from an intimate partner than any other age group.

About one in five female high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.

Ninety-four percent of victims between the ages of 16 and 19 report a current boyfriend or girlfriend as their abuser.

Fifty-eight percent of rape victims report being raped between the ages of 12 and 24.

One in five teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.

One in three girls who have been in a serious relationship say they've been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.

One in four teens who have been in a serious relationship say their boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family; the same number have been pressured to only spend time with their partner.

One in three girls between the ages of 16 and 18 say sex is expected for people their age if they're in a relationship; half of teen girls who have experienced sexual pressure report they are afraid the relationship would break up if they did not give in.

Nearly one in four girls who have been in a relationship (23 percent) reported going further sexually than they wanted as a result of pressure.

Nearly 25 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds know at least one student who was the victim of dating violence; 11 percent know multiple victims and 33 percent of teens have witnessed such an occurrence.

Nearly 80 percent of all girls in an abusive relationship continue to date the abuser.

Eighty-one percent of surveyed parents either believed teenage dating violence was not an issue or did not know if it was an issue.

Teen dating violence and abuse happens in every high school, in every town to lesser or greater degrees — this includes the Boothbay region.

Police Chief Bob Hasch said the Boothbay Harbor police force deals with more reported incidents of domestic violence of all kinds, and attributes it to increased awareness.

“I get calls all of the time and I can’t say it enough, the sooner this type of behavior is corrected, the better,” said Hasch. “Regardess of age, domestic violence is a crime.”

What can teens and their parents do? Watch for the warning signs; extreme acts of jealousy, a partner that demands to know where the young person is all the time, perhaps even gives a cell phone as a gift, blowing disagreements out of proportion, insulting the partner in public, threats to leave them, is verbally and/or physically abusive.

Does the other partner always make excuses for the boyfriend or girlfriend? Do they constantly worry about what will make their partner angry? Are they becoming isolated from friends and family? Is he or she giving up extracurricular activities or time out with people other than the partner?

We must remember not to be silent; if you suspect someone is a victim encourage them to get help.

Keep in contact with her or him and let them know they are not alone; help them make a safety plan; tell them it is not their fault; that they deserve respect.

Call a domestic abuse hotline for help and support: New Hope for Women: 1-800-522-3304, or the National Teen Dating Abuse hotline: 1-866-331-9474 or the National Domestic Violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233.

For more information on what you can do or to learn more, visit these websites:

(Statistics in this article were taken from the Parents Connect, New Hope For Women and the Liz Claiborne, Inc. websites.)