The problem of sexual assault on campus continues to persist and make headlines in the news. But if you have a child and you think, “they don’t care what I say,” or “they don’t want to hear me talk about that,” you’re wrong.
Experiencing unhealthy or abusive relationship behaviors is already a very difficult situation, but alcohol and drugs can only make it worse.
2016 is here, and while last year’s news has brought issues like sexual assault and dating violence into the spotlight, now is the time for action. Anyone can become an advocate to end dating violence, including you! Here are nine things you can do this year to promote healthy relationships:
When people start dating, new emotions are very intense. No one goes into a relationship thinking about when the tide will turn and you have to start thinking about breaking up. But at some point your feelings may fade and be replaced with a feeling that you should break up. So how can you break up without causing a scene, making yourself or someone else miserable, or worse?
Due to the Internet, pornography is now readily available to anyone at any age in any location. In fact, the average age of first exposure to pornography is now around 11 years old. Without knowledge or understanding what is consensual, respectful intimacy in a relationship, pornography can become a major source of sex education for young people. Even scarier, both violent and nonviolent pornography make users more likely to support violence against women and to believe that women enjoy being raped. Worse yet, research studies show these beliefs are predictive of a person being sexually aggressive in real life.
Overall, exposure to pornography creates unrealistic expectations of sexual activity for both men and women. As a parent, it’s important to have an open and honest discussion about pornography. Here are some ways to approach the subject:
- Have a two-way conversation with them that does not involve judgment or blame, especially if they admit or you have seen them already watching pornography.
- Acknowledge the subject is difficult to discuss, but necessary to talk about.
- Explain that pornography, like movies and TV, is made up. It is not representative of actual sexual intercourse, even if it is promoted as “amateur” or “real life” pornography.
- Reference other media, like movies, TV, and video games, as a jumping off point to talk about how your child views sexual violence and aggression. What are examples of healthy and unhealthy portrayals of sex?
- No matter what, if and when they are old enough to have a serious talk about sexual intimacy with a dating partner, both partners should agree beforehand to any sexual activity. Both dating partners should feel comfortable expressing what they do and do not want in terms of sexual activity, and neither should manipulate, cajole, or force the other into doing something.
Talking openly about the differences between healthy, unhealthy, and abusive behaviors in terms of sexual intimacy with a dating partner will allow you to connect with your child and help them make informed decisions about dating, relationships, sex, and pornography.
For more information, visit Fight the New Drug, which deals more exclusively with pornography and its effects on young people.
At Break the Cycle, we strive everyday to help educate, promote, and spread awareness of healthy relationships behaviors for young people. And we know you believe this is a worthy cause, too. That's why we're asking you to consider donating to Break the Cycle.
Your funds help our organization do so much! Here's just a sampling of the things they help us accomplish:
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we wanted to take a moment and give thanks to what we're grateful for in our partners and healthy relationships. See what the Break the Cycle staff had to say!
Charlotte Keenan, Staff Attorney:
I am thankful for trust and open communication about boundaries and needs.
Sarah Colome, Training and TA Program Manager:
Everyone jokes around and teases their family and friends, as well as in dating relationships. However, there’s a line between being playful and insensitive or mean. What happens when “teasing” goes too far?
This past October, we were busy participating in National Domestic Violence Awareness Month events across the country, raising awareness and educating youth, parents and community members! Check out some of the amazing conferences, talks, and more we got to be a part of in this roundup of events to encourage young people to create healthy relationships:
As teenagers transition from preadolescence into adulthood, studies show there is "a substantial increase in the experience of negative emotions". However, they may not have learned yet how to deal with these negative emotions in a constructive manner.