While at the Shelter
This program provides daycare, group support, activity time, and advocacy services to children who have witnessed abuse in the home.
- The Children Exposed to Violence Initiative is a collaboration of advocates, mental health providers and early childhood educators that provide a continuum of care for children. The Initiative is dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence by helping to ensure children receive needed services.
- Health Assessments are provided for children to update immunizations and physicals
School Youth Program
School Youth Advocates provide early intervention/prevention with area youth to help them develop healthy relationship skills in dating, family, and peer relationships. For middle and high school students services include individual support and educational groups that meet 12-15 weeks. Classroom presentations on dating violence, safe social media use and healthy relationships are also provided. Children K-6 receive classroom sessions on bullying, safety, how to be a friend, etc.
Dating Violence: What is it?
Dating violence can be described as a pattern of behaviors in a relationship used to gain power and control over their current or former dating partner. Statistically women are more likely to be abused by their male partners, but people of all genders and orientations can be victims of abuse. Abusive relationships happen at the same rate in same sex relationships as in straight relationships. There is no “typical” victim or “typical” abuser.
1 in 3 girls in the US is a victim of abuse from a dating partner. Let's learn more about this issue. During this month we will post a series of articles on this subject. All materials were prepared by Katie Cashman, School Youth Advocate Anna Marie's Alliance.
As adults witness teenage dating from the outside it’s easy to dismiss their relationships. Thoughts like, “they are naïve,” “they don’t know anything about love or real relationships,” “they are just hormonal,” or “it will never last” may cross our minds. However, many high school students are not experiencing the innocent first relationship experiences we hope for them. In fact, 1.5 million high school students each year experience dating violence and the impact of intimate partner abuse will last much longer than a typical teenage romance.
- Almost 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year
- One in three girls in the United States is a victim of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse from a dating partner
- One in ten high school students have been purposefully physically hurt by a dating partner
- In a risk assessment survey of high school students, 10% experienced physical violence in their dating relationships within the 12 months before being surveyed, and 10% experience sexual violence in their relationships within the 12 months of being surveyed.
- 20% of surveyed male students report witnessing someone they go to high school with physically hit a person they were dating.
- Between 1993 and 1999, 22% of all homicides against females ages 16-19 were committed by an intimate partner.
- Only 33% of teens in an abusive relationship have ever told anyone about it
- 81% of parents believe dating violence is not an issue or admit to not knowing if it’s an issue
- 82% of parents believe they could recognize if their teen was in an abusive relationship, however only 58% could identify all the warning signs
- Violence in adolescent dating relationships puts victims at a higher risk of continued abuse in adult relationships, substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behaviors, and suicide
As in domestic violence, dating abuse takes more forms than just physical violence. Verbal, emotional, sexual, financial, and digital abuse can be just as devastating as physical violence. Below are some examples of each type of abuse.
- Hitting, kicking, punching, gagging, slapping, chocking, shoving, grabbing, scratching, etc.
- Holding someone down against their will
- Not letting them leave the room if they want to
- Breaking their partner’s belongings
- Breaking, throwing, or damaging things around their partner to intimidate them
- Throwing things at their partner
- Punching/kicking walls or other things around their partner
- Using a weapon or leaving weapons around to intimidate
- Grabbing your face to make you look at them
- Pressuring or forcing sex or sexual acts
- Having sex or demanding sex acts when they know their partner doesn’t want to be intimate
- Lying about birth control or not letting your partner use protection
- Threatening to get a new partner if their partner doesn’t do what they want
- Demanding or constantly asking for inappropriate texts or pictures
- Sharing explicit texts or pictures without permission
- Using sexual insults
- Having sexual contact with their partner, even if their partner is drunk, drugged, unconscious, or unable to consent
Emotional and Verbal Abuse
- Yelling, calling names, using insults
- Humiliating their partner
- Making threats to harm their partner
- Blackmailing their partner with private information, or explicit pictures
- Threatening to out their partner before they’re ready
- Threatening to harm themselves or commit suicide if their partner leaves
- Threatening to harm family members or pets
- Blames the victim for their own actions or abusive behavior
- Down playing the abuse, saying it isn’t a big deal or their partner is overreacting
- Starting rumors or gossip about the their partner
- Acting extremely possessive or jealous, constantly accusing their partner of cheating or flirting
- Reading through their partner’s texts, emails, or messages
- Constantly checking up on the victim
- Telling their partner what to do or wear
- Preventing their partner from seeing or talking to friends and family
- Making their partner feel crazy, stupid, or worthless
- Not allowing their partner to work, limiting their hours, making them quit their job, or getting them fired
- Giving their partner an allowance and closely watching their spending
- Putting their partner’s paycheck in their own account
- Not giving their partner access to their money or shared money
- Stealing, or using their partner’s money or credit cards without permission
- Using money/material needs to hold power over you (housing, phone, car, food, clothes)
- Telling their partner who they can or cannot be friends with on social media
- Demanding access to their partner’s account or making changes without permission
- Reading texts, emails, or conversations to keep tabs on their partner
- Using technology or social media to insult, humiliate, harass, or blackmail their partner
- Sending threatening or intimidating messages
- Using technology to stalk their partner
- Sending unwanted explicit pictures or demanding them in return
- Stealing their partner’s passwords
- Constantly texting their partner and expecting their partner to respond immediately
- Looking through their partner’s phone
What are Red Flags for Dating Violence and What Can You Do?
- Your partner is extremely jealous
- They tell you what to do, who to see or how to dress
- They are constantly checking up on you or texting you
- You are afraid to upset them
- They put you down, insult you, embarrass you on purpose, or call you names
- They blame you for their actions, emotions, or behaviors
- The relationship gets serious quickly
- They check your phone or email, or ask for passwords to your social media accounts
- They have major mood swings
- They threaten to harm themselves if you leave them
- They physically hurt you in any way
- They try to keep you from spending time with friends and family or only want you to spend time with them
- Your partner witnessed or experienced domestic violence as a child
- You feel like you are the only person who can help them, save them, or understand them and want to make them better
If you’re concerned for someone, some red flags are:
- Their partner is constantly checking up on them
- They apologize for their partner or make excuses for their partner’s behavior
- Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive
- They are constantly worried about upsetting their partner
- They are withdrawn or cancel plans frequently
- They are giving up relationships and activities that used to be important to them
- They have drastically changed their appearance
- You have seen their partner put him/her down or embarrass them
- You have seen or heard fights escalating to breaking, throwing, or hitting things
- They have injuries they cannot explain, or their explanations don’t make sense
A Note on Exploitation and Trafficking
Human trafficking and intimate partner violence have many similar traits. Both are harmful and manipulative relationships that are difficult to leave. Teenagers are also particularly vulnerable to trafficking, and traffickers often approach their victims as a dating partner. Both abusers and Traffickers are experts in gaining control over their victims.
However, an abuser controls their partner to have power over them, and a trafficker controls their victim to make a profit off of them. If a victim is being traded or coerced into doing things (sexual acts, forced labor, etc.) in exchange for money or things of value, it may be a case of trafficking or sexual exploitation instead of dating violence, even if the victim refers to the controller as their boyfriend. If you are concerned about a case of trafficking contact the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center at (320) 251-4357 or the National Human Trafficking resource Center at 1-888-373-7888
If you or someone you know is a vicitm of dating violence, here are some additional resources:
Anna Marie's Alliance-320-253-6900 Advocates are available to talk with you 24-hours / 7 days a wekk
Loveisrespect.org--a great web site for teens
CMSAC--Central MN Sexual Assault Center--320-251-4367
RAINN.org--Rape Abuse and Incest National Network
In Love and In Danger by Barrie Levy
What to do:
If you are experiencing an abusive relationship, or not sure if your relationship is abusive or not, here are some things to keep in mind:
Take the abuse or warning signs seriously. Abuse does not stop or go away on its own, it usually gets more dangerous over time. You deserve to feel safe, valued, and respected in ALL of your relationships
Find support! You do not need to go through this alone. Build up your support network and talk to friends and adults you trust about your relationship. Organizations like Anna Marie’s are available 24/7 for help and support.
Make a safety plan. You know your partner the best. If your gut is telling you that you might not be safe, listen to it! Anna Marie’s advocates can help you make a safety plan so you can feel safe at work, school, and home.
Learn more about healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships. The more you know the easier it is to recognize abuse when it is happening. Loveisrespect.org is a great resource to answer questions on all types of relationships. You can also text or chat with their advocates 24/7. If you go to school in central Minnesota, Anna Marie’s advocates can also meet with you at your school if you would like to talk to someone in person.
If your friend is being abused there are some key things you can do to help them.
Tell them your concerns. Be honest about what you’re feeling without putting down their partner. Focus on the abusive behaviors not the person, for example, “You don’t deserve to be called names” vs. “He’s a jerk for saying those things to you.” If you focus more on you not liking their partner it might shut down the conversation. Let your friend know you are worried about their safety and they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.
Listen to what your friend has to say without judging them, even if they say they love their partner and want to stay with them! You might not agree with everything they say, but listening without interrupting will build trust.
Don’t blame them. Asking questions like “why don’t you leave?” Or “why do you let him treat you that way” put the blame on the victim. The only person to blame for the abuse is the abuser. Your friend did not ask to be abused or deserve to be abused.
Respect their freedom! Their partner is already controlling their choices; they don’t need friends trying to control them too. Avoid giving advice or telling them what they should do. Instead, find ways to support their decisions and help them be safe. They need encouragement more than anything.
Help them find resources like Anna Marie’s Alliance or loveisrespect.org. Help them to tell a trusted adult. It is hard to get adults involved, but your friend’s safety might depend on it.
Give them things to do other than spend time with their partner. Their partner may be trying to cut them off from friends and family, so having a friend willing to invite them to hang out (even if they say no a lot) will be a great support. Help them build relationship with people outside of their partner, and continue that support if they decide to leave their partner.
Be Patient. People in controlling relationships often try leaving their partner many times before they leave them for good. If you are willing to stick with your friend through all of those ups and downs you will be a huge support in helping them find freedom.
Take care of yourself. Don’t do anything to put your own safety at risk, and remember it is not your job to save or rescue your friend. You cannot make them leave their relationship. If you want to talk to an Anna Marie’s Advocate in person to learn more on supporting your friends, call 253-6900.
If a teen you care about is being abused
Believe them and take it seriously. Victims of abuse often minimize the violence they have experienced, so if they are coming forward with examples of abuse trust your teen and take them seriously. Recognize how much courage it takes to share such a painful experience.
Don’t blame them. Asking questions like “why don’t you leave?” Or “why do you let him treat you that way” put the blame on the victim. The only person to blame for the abuse is the abuser. Your teen did not ask to be abused or deserve to be abused.
Skip the “I told you so.” Many teens are afraid to tell adults about abuse because someone along the way said they shouldn’t date that person. They are already feeling shame for being a victim. The only person who deserves the blame for the abuse is the abuser. Your teen was not asking for it, did not deserve it, and did not want their relationship to turn out this way.
Tell them your concerns. Be honest about what you’re feeling without putting down their partner. Focus on the abusive behaviors not the person. For example, “You don’t deserve to be called names” vs. “He’s a jerk for saying those things to you.” If you focus more on you not liking their partner it might shut down the conversation. Let your teen know you are worried about their safety and they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect.
Do not try to control your teen- As adults who are in charge of your teen’s safety, it will be very tempting to make decisions for them, or tell them what to do. However, if you are telling your teen what to do or making decisions for them, you will be fighting their abuser for control over your teen, and the abuser will probably win. Try to come to decisions with your teen on ways for everyone to stay safe. Get their input on what they would like to happen, and respect their opinions and experiences. Your teen knows their abuser the best, so trust their gut.