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Dating & violence should not be a couple
February is Teen Dating Violence Prevention Awareness Month at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
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'Dating and Violence Should Not Be a Couple'

Posted 2/11/2013   Updated 2/12/2013 Email story   Print story

    


by By Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Valentine
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


2/11/2013 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Most of us have seen the sensational murder-suicide headlines in the news.

It seems like every day there's another heart-breaking story about a young couple, once deeply in love, whose relationship ended in violence - families left with unanswered questions, wondering 'What happened?', 'Why?' and' Could it have been prevented?'

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and although the above-mentioned scenario may seem far-fetched, young adult and teen intimate partner violence affects every community. The Hurlburt Field Family Advocacy Program wants to get the word out about this serious issue that's rarely discussed in public.

"We hear a lot about date rape and drug and alcohol abuse, but no one really talks about the teen IPV problem," said Shirley Sims, outreach manager of Hurlburt's Family Advocacy Program. "This month's theme 'Dating & Violence Should Not Be a Couple' will be promoted on base and at local middle and high schools. Family Advocacy is offering "Safe Date" programs for parents and teens to learn skills for handling conflict, recognizing signs of dating abuse, and how to date safely along with several other informational classes and programs for teens and parents, and young adults.

"People need to remember young adult and teen dating is just as serious as adult relationships and just as dangerous. You can never say 'it's just puppy love,' especially during a break-up because the threat of violence is always possible, it needs to be taken seriously," Sims said.

Sims shared that a group of local teens, between the ages of 13 and 15, recently filled out a questionnaire regarding their personal experiences with IPV and dating. Many of the teens disclosed that they dated someone who insulted them, hurt their feelings, threw something at them, and blamed them for things at least once. Some teens also reported that their date forced them to have sex or do something sexual that they did not want to do.

"The results confirm IPV is happening to teens right here in our community," Sims said.

According to loveisrespect.org, an online resource that promotes healthy teen relationships, 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.

"I like the www.loveisrespect.org website, because it has a place where teens can go to ask questions and someone responds back with advice," Sims explained. "Teens can also take an assessment test to find out if they are in a dangerous relationship and depending on their answers, they're told how to get help."

Parents need to know how to talk about dating with teens and learn to recognize signs of abuse, Sims said. "That's why I'm conducting a parenting teens class during the month of February to address these issues."

Sims said teens tend to be more withdrawn but they should be able to go to their parents and tell them honestly that they need help.

"Not all teens can do that because parents are so caught up in their own lives." Sims said. "Many parents don't even know if dating violence is an issue with their teen."

Long-term effects of teen IPV can vary, Sims said.

"If they don't get help early, they may lose self-esteem and unfortunately, many end up repeating the same type of relationships into adulthood because they never learn anything better," she said. 

Sims said she plans to form a Hurlburt Field IPV focus group in the near future. Airmen who have overcome IPV and would like to share their personal story with teens to offer ideas and solutions are encouraged to volunteer.

More IPV outreach programs geared toward Airmen between the ages of 18 and 25 are needed as well, she said.

"We offer couples classes but nothing for those just dating. It's hard to reach Airmen if they're not married."

For more information on the available FAP classes and please call Shirley Sims at 805-881-5113. For more information on teen IPV go to www.loveisrespect.org.
 
Important phone numbers to call when dating violence occurs:
  • For all Emergencies, call 911 (local law enforcement officers are first responders)
  • National Teen Dating Violence Hotline 1-866-331-9474
  • Crisis line FWB (850) 244-9191 Crestview (850) 682-0101
  • Favor House (850) 438-1171
  • Shelter House (24hr) (850) 438-1171
  • Family Advocacy Office (850) 881-5061



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