Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control, about one in 12 US high school students experience physical dating violence? February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. The initiative, led by youth activists across the country, has continued to grow since its start as just a week of awareness in 2006.
One of the pillars of the work we do at RALIANCE – helping to end sexual violence – requires careful attention to abusive behaviors among young people for a few reasons. First, survivors of teen dating violence tend to be marginalized women and identify as queer or questioning. This group is also vulnerable to other forms of systemic abuse of power. Second, experiencing intimate partner violence at a young age can lead to long-term and short-term effects such as substance abuse or depression and anxiety. Lastly, the behaviors established at this formative stage can set the stage for dynamics in future relationships.
In the past, we have provided grants to organizations seeking to create awareness and prevention of teen dating violence:
–Center for Community Solutions – The Center for Community Solutions in San Diego, CA enhanced their Teen Relationship Violence Education Curriculum and Program in an effort to increase awareness, challenge myths and decrease sexual and intimate partner violence with high-risk, marginalized incarcerated youth.
-ReThink – The former organization, ReThink in Washington, D.C., built a community of leaders to pilot an approach to work with adolescent boys to instill critical values of empathy, consent and emotional awareness. The goal was to prepare adolescent boys to reject rape myths and embrace healthy attitudes towards women. The founder, Tahir Duckett, has since become the Executive Director of Georgetown Law’s Center for Innovations in Community Safety.
We also wanted to leave our partners and readers with tips anyone can implement if you suspect a young employee is experiencing dating violence.
-Provide scheduling flexibility so the person can deal with matters such as filing complaints, attending court or obtaining a restraining order.
-If the employee feels comfortable disclosing the need for help, provide them with a team member escort for late shifts or to the parking lot.
-Record notes of anything that may be of assistance to the survivor for future legal action— such as dates when you noticed injuries or any disruptive workplace appearances from the harm-doer.
Intimate partner violence at any age is a sensitive topic, but all employers should feel equipped to help so that survivors can feel safe enough to get help. Learn more about how to support employees dealing with intimate partner violence in our blog, “Four Ways 4 Ways Employers Can Support Employees Dealing With Domestic Violence.”
RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.