As a member of the media, you have the ability to raise awareness about teen dating violence and help stop this silent epidemic. Use the following tips to make sure your piece does as much good as possible.
As part of any article covering abuse, please provide your readers with to get help. Listing resources like Break the Cycle can make the difference between simply raising awareness and saving lives.
Below is a sample blurb that you may find useful in listing Break the Cycle’s resources. You will notice that we emphasize loveisrespect.org, because it contains the information young people need to prevent, diagnose and escape unhealthy relationships.
A collaboration between Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline, the new loveisrespect.org is the ultimate healthy relationship resource. Through the site, teens can ask anonymous, confidential questions and figure out their legal rights and responsibilities.
See more resources that Break the Cycle recommends.
Tell the Real Story
As a member of the media, you have the power to correct common misunderstandings about abuse and promote real solutions to dating violence. Here are some tips to help you on your way:
- 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. 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 workbooks for high school and college-aged youth.
- Dating violence happens in every type of relationship, in every community. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, 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, 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 him or her that there are alternatives to the abusive relationship. Break the Cycle has resources to help friends and family members to be better allies on loveisrespect.org.
- 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,” adults risk overlooking the seriousness of dating violence. Abuse among youth can be just as destructive as abuse among adults, if not more so. Teen dating violence can lead to suicide, serious injury, drug abuse, high-risk sexual behavior, unwanted pregnancy, eating disorders and dropping out of school.