Dating violence is a silent epidemic, and myths about dating and domestic violence are still very prevalent. As a member of the media, you can help set the record straight through accurate and responsible coverage. Use the following tips to make sure your piece does as much good as possible:
- The abuse is never the victim's fault. It may be tempting to focus on what the victim could have done to avoid abuse. It is important to remember that nothing a victim does invites or excuses abuse. There are many reasons a person stays in an abusive relationship, but liking the abuse is not one of them.
- Telling someone to "just leave" the relationship is not the answer. There are many reasons why teens stay in unhealthy relationships. For one, breaking up can be the most violent time in an abusive relationship. Without understanding the obstacles a teen may face and helping him or her through a safe separation, the situation usually gets worse, not better. Break the Cycle provides safety planning tools at loveisrespect.
- Dating violence happens in every type of relationship and in every community. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, religious or not, confident or shy. Anyone can become part of an unhealthy relationship and no one has a predisposition to becoming a victim of abuse. Victims do not begin the relationship with "low self-esteem."
- Dating violence isn't just physical. Emotional and sexual violence can be just as, if not more, devastating to a young person's health than physical violence. Learn more about the types of abuse.
- Do not advise teens to fight back. When a victim violently lashes out against his or her abuser, the violence often escalates. The abuser may even take that moment to "prove" the violence is mutual and sometimes use it to press charges. Moreover, fighting back does not end the violence. It is much more effective to seek legal help in the form of a restraining order or to make a plan for how to stay safe.
- There's never a point where you should "cut off" a friend who is being abused. Part of an abuser's tactics is to isolate his or her victim. Without a supportive community, the victim finds it harder to leave the unhealthy relationship. Being a good friend, listening and supporting the victim's decisions are the best ways to show them that there are alternatives to the abusive relationship.
- Take relationships among youth seriously. Even if a person is young, his or her relationship still matters. By assuming teen relationships are just "puppy love" or “hooking up,” adults risk overlooking the seriousness of dating violence. Abuse among youth can be just as destructive as abuse among adults, if not more so.
For all media inquiries, please contact Joseph Jessie at 206.359.0418 or firstname.lastname@example.org.