One is too many
Most people have their first relationships while in high school or college. It's new, exciting, thrilling, sometimes sexual, and perfectly normal. Unfortunately, this can also be one of the most dangerous times in a woman's life. Women ages 16-24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. In fact, nearly 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year and more than half of the women who are raped are under the age of 18.
We refuse to remain a silenced majority. Dating violence is domestic violence. It is the use of power and control over one individual by someone who is supposed to care about her or him. Dating violence is not only just physical, but can also be emotional and psychological abuse and include behaviors such as stalking, isolation of friends and family, and being possessive. Since this is often their first love or serious relationship, many young people may not know the red flags or identify problematic behaviors.
It is time to end the silence on dating violence.
As young women and college interns at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the victims of dating violence are our friends and classmates; they are the familiar faces on the quad or in the library. We know people in our lives who have experienced dating violence and the odds are that you or someone you know has too.
What can we do? We speak up when our friends make jokes about a drunk girl being 'easy,' and we offer support to a friend who is being abused. It is essential to raise awareness among our peers so we can recognize dating violence and have the resources to help one another. Educating young men and women to be responsive bystanders is a key element to ending dating violence. You can be there for your friend and listen to her or him, and you can point out behaviors that are troubling or have red flags, both without judgment and blame.
Education on healthy relationships exists at our college campuses, but there needs to be more education in middle and high schools, the media, and in the community at large; without proper education, information about resources, and how to stand up against it, dating violence will continue unchecked.
Recently, the White House released its "1 is 2 Many" campaign to raise awareness on dating violence. As young adults we encourage our peers to take a stand against dating violence....because one is too many.
- Written by Norielle Aurelio and Abby Stallworth, Interns at the National Network to End Domestic Violence