Many people think of domestic violence like a scene out of a movie. Wife doesn’t cook her husband’s dinner to his satisfaction and he smacks her across the face, leaving a bruise she needs to cover with sunglasses the next day. Hollywood makes domestic violence seem like it would be obvious if it was happening to someone you knew. The sad reality is most of the time domestic violence isn’t obvious. The victims we don’t usually hear about are the teen boy or girl who seems to have everything, but no one realizes their partner is secretly hitting or mentally abusing them.
According to an article published in the journal Pediatrics, nearly 20.9 percent of female high school students and 13.4 percent of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner. Additional research reports 57 percent of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually or verbally abused by a dating partner (www.ncadv.org).
In the Carson City Adolescent Health Education Program offered through Carson City Health and Human Services, we not only address sexual health but healthy relationship skills. While you might think healthy relationship skills are a natural thing for all of us to learn, this isn’t true. Good communication is learned through our adult and peer role models. If there’s a lack of positive examples of good relationship and communication skills, a future heathy relationship for that individual might be hard to achieve. If the only examples a person sees when they’re frustrated or distressed is to act out abusively or be victimized, that might become their relationship norm.
I had the pleasure of meeting an amazing woman, Briana Neben, who’s a strong advocate against teen dating violence. She can be seen talking about her own situation at www.tedxcarsoncity.com/briana-neben. Neben’s story is a good example of someone who witnessed domestic violence in her home and then experienced teen dating abuse. Her story also shows domestic violence doesn’t always take the form of physical violence but can be verbal and mental abuse as well.
As a community, we all need to do our part through education and awareness to prevent domestic violence for everyone. The Carson City Advocates to End Domestic Violence works collaboratively with the Carson City School District, providing interactive presentations to students in middle and high school. The Teen Dating Violence presentations help students identify the dynamics of healthy relationships and the “red flags” of abusive relationships. The classes are age-appropriate and structured to provide knowledge and prevention about dating violence while offering practical strategies to avoid or leave abusive relationships. If you would like more information or help for yourself or someone else who is experiencing domestic violence, please contact AEDV at 775-883-7654, which is the 24-hour crisis hotline. You can also visit the website at www.aedv.org or follow the organization on Facebook at www.facebook.com/advocatestoenddomesticviolence. AEDV is the largest domestic violence shelter in Northern Nevada and offers many programs to help victims and survivors of domestic abuse.
For information about services and programs available to you through Carson City Health and Human Services, visit our website at gethealthycarsoncity.org, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cchhs or call us at 775-887-2190. You can also find us at 900 E. Long St. in Carson City.