By Laura Swanson, TCP Editor & Tillamook County Wellness Advisory Committee Member
“Dating violence is preventable, especially if education about healthy relationships starts early,” said Valerie Bundy, executive director of Tides of Change. “This month and beyond, we want educators, youth, and community leaders to join along with middle, high school and college students, to raise awareness of the differences between healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.”
The good news? Talking about healthy relationships and dating abuse can help break the cycle of violence and stop abuse before it begins. Each February, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month highlights these issues by providing resources such as this Healthy Relationship Quiz (see below), and tips below for recognizing “warning signs” – opportunities for prevention of abusive relationships.
COVID-19 has changed dating and relationships, and in some cases endangering people that are dependent on an abuser, quarantine restrictions provide control and limits access or exit. “We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg and the pandemic has put extra pressure on all our relationships,” Valerie continued. “It’s important to talk about what a healthy relationship looks like, that relationships can change over time, and to let people know that Tides of Change is always available.” They provide resources for those experiencing abuse in a relationship or assistance with past abuse through counseling, support groups and connections to resources. Services are free and available for all ages. Bilingual/bicultural advocates are available and there are multiple ways to access Tides of Change services including discrete ways through an online chat at their website or text messaging. Tides of Change’s mission is to provide hope, safety and support to those impacted by gender-based violence and shift cultural norms through advocacy, education, and community collaboration. Contact Tides of Change for more information about teen dating violence awareness at 503.842.9486, Toll-free: 800.992.1679, text: 503.852.9114, email email@example.com, or online at www.tidesofchangenw.org.
Studies show 1 in 3 high school students experience physical and/or sexual violence that is perpetrated by someone they are dating or going out with.* 43 percent of dating college women and 28 percent of college men say they experience violent and abusive dating behavior.* During February’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM), sharing resources and information about healthy relationships to “Know Your Worth” and work together to prevent dating abuse. Know Your Worth is all about learning about healthy relationships and self-empowerment! Everyone is deserving of a healthy, loving relationship.
For Teens & Young Adults – In any relationship, you have a right to:
- Be treated as an equal
- Make decisions about your own body
- Choose your own friends
- Express your own thoughts and opinions
- Live without fear or intimidation
- Feel good about yourself
- Spend time by yourself
- Choose what to wear
- Say no
- Change your mind
- Spend time with your family
- Feel safe emotionally and physically
- Private use of your phone or computer
- Spend time doing things of interest to you
- Tell the truth and be told the truth
- End a relationship
If you’re concerned that your rights or the rights of someone you care about are not being respected, call Tides of Change at 503-842.9486, Toll-free: 800.992.1679
For Parents, Teachers, and the Community
The following may be warning signs that your child or another young person you know might be in an abusive relationship:
- You notice that their partner is extremely jealous or possessive.
- You notice unexplained marks or bruises.
- You notice that their partner messages or texts them excessively.
- You notice that your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
- Your son or daughter stops participating in extracurricular activities or other interests.
- Your child stops spending time with other friends and family.
- Your child’s partner abuses other people or animals.
- Your child begins to dress differently.
“Warning sign” is another way of saying “opportunity for prevention.” If you are concerned about your child’s relationship:
- Tell your child you’re concerned for their safety.
- Ask questions that focus on their experience, and let them do most of the talking.
- Believe them, take them seriously.
- Be supportive and understanding.
- Never put down their partner.
- Avoid telling them what to do. Remember that ultimately your child must be the one who decides to leave the relationship.
- Contact a local Tides of Change advocate at 503-842.9486, Toll-free: 800.992.1679 or online at www.tidesofchangenw.org to help start the conversation.
(adapted from Love is Respect)
loveisrespect is a project of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. The purpose is to engage, educate and empower young people to prevent and end abusive relationships by providing information and support to concerned friends and family members, teachers, counselors, service providers and members of law enforcement. Advocates provide free and confidential support through online chat at https://www.thehotline.org/, text (send loveis to 22522*) or phone, 1-866-331-9474.
*Statistics from the American Psychological Association and Department of Justice.
For more local health and wellness information, follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or go to www.tillamookcountywellness.org.