Coordinated Community Response: Help Reduce Teen Dating Violence in Our Community

by AVA BEAUDOT, Advocate, HELP of Door County

In honor of February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, HELP of Door County will be auctioning off a Lynn Gilchrist Painting. Her work is known for its whimsy and intense color. Using oils and acrylics, she takes inspiration from the Door County landscape around her. All proceeds will go to HELP’s youth services. For more information on the silent auction, check HELP of Door County’s Facebook page.

It is important to acknowledge and support youth that are experiencing violence in their relationships, whether that be romantic or platonic. According to End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, one-in-five teens experience dating violence in Wisconsin. Only one-third of those teens confide in someone about the violence. This may be due to shame, miseducation, intimidation, isolation, or not having someone safe to go to for help. This violence comes in many forms, such as emotional, verbal, physical, sexual and technological. Abusers often continue their attacks over social media when not physically near their partner. Women identifying as LGBTQIA2S or disabled, and BIPOC teens, are more likely to experience teen dating violence than their peers.

There are several ways to reduce teen dating violence within the community. Provide emotional support to a friend or family member that is going through teen dating violence. Validate their feelings, listen to what they have to say, and respect their decisions. Step in when witnessing a confrontation that frightens and makes a peer or loved one uncomfortable. Always ensure that it is safe to do so. Visit them later to check in and make sure they are OK. 

Reporting online harassment is an easy way to reduce technological abuse. Due to teen dating violence being underreported, it is important to stay educated and discuss it with others. Lastly, direct teens to their local domestic violence organization. 

HELP of Door County works to create a safe place for teenagers experiencing abuse through education, advocacy, and safety planning. There are also two supervised, youth facilitated groups: Sparks & Flame (ages 7-13) and FYRE (ages 14-17). In each of these groups, youth have a safe place to discuss their concerns and struggles within their lives and learn about topics, such as healthy relationships, friendships and consent. They also participate yearly in Teen Summit, which is End Abuse Wisconsin’s statewide training, developed by and for young people. At this conference they learn about individual and community healing, anti-violence work, and imagining a violence-free future. They can use this knowledge to educate those around them and improve their community. 

This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.

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