CLEVELAND, OH (February 5, 2015). Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year. While 1 in 3 adolescents experience sexual, physical, verbal or emotional dating abuse, only 1/3 of those have ever confided in someone about the violence. Whether it be from embarrassment, lack of understanding of the law, or fear of further violence, teens are suffering in silence without a support system and resources to help them move forward from this trauma.
The effects of dating abuse are far reaching; teens who have been in an abusive relationship are at higher risk for poor academic performance, substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and depression. Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide. While the statistics show this is a critical issue for parents and educators to pay attention to, only 20% of school guidance counselors report feeling prepared to address incidents of abuse with students. At home, digital communication makes it more difficult for parents to see the warning signs. To add to the confusion, teens may not understand what signals abuse as well. Warning signs include: Checking your cell phone or email without permission; constantly putting you down; extreme jealousy or insecurity; explosive temper; isolating you from family or friends; making false accusations; mood swings; physically hurting you; possessiveness; telling you what to do; pressuring or forcing you to have sex.
The Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center (DVCAC) serves teen dating violence victims through personal advocacy and support and also provides education on the issue throughout Cuyahoga County. During National Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month each February, DVCAC works to provide educational programs on healthy relationships and raise awareness throughout the community through a campaign they call RESPECT. For this purpose, DVCAC developed a free toolkit available to schools, churches and other groups which encourages healthy relationships and offers educational resources, materials, and activities.
DVCAC provides emergency intervention as well as long term support for victims. More information about the services provided can be found at the agency’s website: www.DVCAC.org. Victims needing emergency assistance can call the 24 hour Domestic Violence Helpline: 216-391-HELP.
Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center (DVCAC) is the result of a merger between the Domestic Violence Center and Bellflower Center for Prevention of Child Abuse. DVCAC and its parent organizations have nearly 40 years history leading the community in responding to victims of child abuse and domestic violence and working to break the cycle of abuse via prevention, intervention and community education. The agency is dedicated to healthy relationships and provides a continuum of services for persons of all ages who have been victims of, or are at risk of being victims of, domestic violence, child abuse, or other family or relationship violence. Its model is grounded in a strength-based and empowerment philosophy and incorporates best practices and evidenced-based strategies and is being held up as a national model specifically for the integration of the children’s program and domestic violence programming which empowers adult victims. The Mission of Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center is to empower individuals, educate the community and advocate for justice to end domestic violence and child abuse. DVCAC is a proud member of United Way and Community Shares.