Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Help Stop the Abuse
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM). Each year organizations across the country, including OCO Service to Aid Families (SAF) program, come together to raise awareness for this pervasive issue. The TDVAM 2021 theme is “Know Your Worth,” a phrase which is meant to emphasize empowerment and self-love amongst teenagers. SAF wants every young person to recognize their value and realize everyone is worthy of healthy relationships, during the month of February and beyond.
One in three teenagers experiences dating violence in the form of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, and yet only 33 percent report ever telling someone about it. This is one of the many challenges SAF works to combat. By educating parents, teachers, and other community members how to spot the signs of teen dating violence and how to respond when it happens, we can help cultivate an accepting environment for adolescents to get help.
“By providing young people with education about healthy relationships and assisting survivors in getting the help and support they need, we can work together to change the culture in our homes, schools, and communities,” said SAF Community Response Coordinator Stacie France.
SAF, which served over 600 victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Oswego County last year, partners with school districts within the county to provide prevention education to young people. School-based educators and advocates have established relationships in Fulton, Hannibal, Oswego and Phoenix schools, as well as SUNY Oswego and Cayuga Community College campuses, and are proud to be continuing those services virtually.
Everyone has a role to play in preventing teen dating violence, regardless of their age. Adults can model healthy relationship behaviors for kids and teenagers, teach the importance of bodily autonomy, and inform young people of their rights and options for help. Abuse should be taken seriously, even among and between kids and young adults. If someone is unsure how to help a teen who they suspect is in an abusive relationship, they can call the hotline and ask.
SAF will also be busy throughout February utilizing social media to raise awareness for TDVAM this year. Keep an eye out for virtual campaigns on Facebook and Instagram such as “Respect Week” starting February 8th and “Wear Orange Day” on February 9th. The more people post and talk about teen dating violence, the less stigmatizing the topic becomes, making these conversations easier and prevention more likely.
If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence or stalking, please call the OCO Crisis Hotline at (315) 342-1600. The hotline is available 24 hours a day and is free and confidential. Individuals looking to donate to the SAF program should also contact us through the Crisis Hotline. SAF is the domestic violence and rape crisis program for Oswego County and has provided crisis, supportive, advocacy and educational services throughout Oswego County for more than 40 years.