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National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month January 20, 2012

Posted by Alicia in Education, How To Help, Teenage Relationships, What We're Up To.
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February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  What have we done, and what can we do to promote healthy relationships among teens?  In November, our bloggers and friends of unfollowcharlie raised awareness and contributed to Break the Cycle, a campaign in conjunction with loveisrespect.org.

With the help of our donation, Break the Cycle is:

Teaching teens the signs of abuse
Training the next generation of leaders about dating violence
Ensuring that teens in every state have basic rights, like access to restraining orders.

What can we do without even leaving our computers, iPads and iPhones?

On each Monday beginning January 16th (oops, missed one) you can tweet comments and answers to teens about what healthy relationships are. Tweet to #whatlovemeans on these dates:

Monday January 23rd
Monday, January 30th
Monday February 6th

The best answers will be retweeted at @Love_isNotAbuse and @Seventeenmag

On Facebook, you can post on your wall raising awareness.  Or do more, get creative!  And “like” or post on this page:

You can check out this list of states to see how yours stacks up with others in passing legislation about teen dating violence education and new laws protecting teens in need of a restraining order.  Don’t like what you see?  Contact your legislator, and if they don’t respond with legislation, ask the schools.  There are community programs that can help the schools and provide in-service training for certified teachers.

Read a transcript of the DVD available from the PBS program ‘in the mix’ for teens.

And, here is a FREE curriculum on teen dating violence with videos included to educate yourself, or even receive certification.

What still needs to be done to help teens maintain healthy relationships?

A lot.  But let’s start here. Very few domestic shelters accept teens as the primary victims, and most teen victims are not protected by law unless they are living with the abuser or have a child with him.  Advocating for effective and well funded programs to protect teens and help their abusers receive counseling is essential.  In terms of prevention, since most teens confide in their friends, and spend much of their day at school, educating teens about how to help their peers should be a top priority.

1 is 2 Many September 14, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Teenage Relationships.
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Our friend Joe Biden has announced a new initiative in honor of the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act.  Please click here for full details.

There is a form to share your feedback at the link above or you can share your ideas on Twitter with the hashtag #1is2many on how to make our schools and campuses safer from domestic violence and dating abuse.  I piped in with the idea for a federal Lindsay Ann Burke Act.

Please get the word out.

CDC Demonstration Projects – Preventing Intimate Partner Violence in Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations August 11, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Prevention, Teenage Relationships.
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The burden of IPV on racial and ethnic minorities is not well documented.  Some population-based studies have demonstrated few differences in the prevalence of IPV among these persons, yet other studies find substantially greater violence among racial and ethnic minorities.  For example, the IPV prevalence rates for whites, African Americans and Hispanics has been demonstrated to be 11%, 25% and 25% respectively.  Some attribute the disparity to economic differences among the groups and may not be intrinsically related to race and ethnicity.

Recognizing the need for IPV prevention and intervention programs that address specific racial/ethnic minority populations the CDC issued a request for application in 2000 for demonstration projects that would develop, implement and evaluate IPV prevention strategies targeted for specific racial/ethnic minorities.  The press release for the launch of this study is: here.

One of the crucial things that all of the programs learned is that the education and prevention programs needed to be customized to address specifics about the community in order for the audience to relate to the material.  For example, in a Native American community where there was an extremely high rate of poverty, a curriculum had an example of an angry boyfriend destroying a CD that was given as a gift.  The students all said they would never do that even in anger because a CD is such a luxury there.  A different hurdle was found in Hispanic communities which had a high number of immigrants.  The cultural norms of what is acceptable behavior differed and this had to be addressed in the curriculum materials.

The overall takeaway from the studies that can be applied to mixed communities as well is that the message has more resonance if it is applicable to the student.  A curriculum that talks about a boy and a girl having an argument while riding in a car when taught in New York City may not feel “right” while in a suburban or rural area this may be a relatable scenario.

The lessons learned from this program are fully documented in the CDC report available here for free: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/pubs/ncipc.aspx Scroll down to intimate partner violence and select the Preventing Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence in Racial/Ethnic Minority Communities document.

Peers Help Teens Understand Relationships – T.E.A.R. July 28, 2011

Posted by Alicia in Teenage Relationships, Uncategorized, Women Who Rock.
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In just four weeks, I’ll be back to packing school lunches and sitting through rush hour with teenagers talking in the back seat as if I can’t hear them.  It’s one of the best ways to learn about who has a crush on the soccer player, which teachers are the least desirable to have for science, and who the biggest bullies are.  It’s a time I look forward to being the invisible entity, the parent of a teen who doesn’t share everything with mom.  I’ve yet to meet a teen who does.

With that in mind, and knowing that my daughter’s best friend is already dating, it’s time for me to start thinking about how to talk about healthy dating relationships.  We’ve already shared ideas about self-respect, self-esteem and friendships, but there’s always that fear in the back of my mind that some of those lessons will be lost during one of the most difficult and emotional phases of my child’s life. (more…)

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships for Teens July 13, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Teenage Relationships.
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Relationships that occur in the teen years may affect dating relationships later in life. The lessons teens learn today about respect, healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, and what is right or wrong may carry over into future relationships. So it is important for teens to recognize healthy relationships.

What is a Healthy Relationship?

A healthy relationship is free from physical, emotional, and sexual violence. Qualities like respect, good communication, and honesty are important parts of a healthy relationship. Educating teens about the importance and value of respect (both respect for oneself and respect for other people) may enable them to form healthy relationships before they start to date—to prevent dating violence before it starts. Healthy relationships are built on a foundation of respect. Respect is a choice, and when you give it, you are more likely to get it in return. It is important for teens to learn how to treat others the way they want to be treated. Teens also need to recognize that when respect is absent, their relationships may turn from healthy to unhealthy.

The following are characteristics of a healthy dating relationship:
Mutual respect. Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person’s boundaries.
Trust. Partners should choose to trust in each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Honesty. When a dating partner lies, it takes time to rebuild that trust in him or her. Honesty builds trust and strengthens the relationship.
Compromise. In a dating relationship, each partner does not always get his or her way. They should acknowledge different points of view and be willing to give and take.
Individuality. Each partner should not have to compromise who they are, and his or her identity should not be based on their partner’s. Partners should each continue seeing his or her friends or doing the things that he or she loves. They should be supportive if their partner wants to pursue new hobbies or make new friends.
Good communication. Each partner should speak honestly and openly to avoid miscommunication. If a partner needs to sort out his or her feelings first, their partner should respect those wishes and wait until they are ready to talk. •Anger control. We all get angry, but how we express it can affect our relationships with others. Anger can be handled in healthy ways such as taking a deep breath, counting to 10, or talking it out.
Problem solving. Dating partners can learn to solve problems and identify new solutions by breaking a problem into small parts or by talking through the situation.
Fighting fair. Everyone argues at some point, but those who are fair, stick to the subject, and avoid insults are more likely to come up with a possible solution. Partners should take a short break away from each other if the discussion gets too heated.
Understanding. Each partner should take time to understand what the other might be feeling by putting themselves in their shoes.
Self-confidence. When dating partners have confidence in themselves, it can help their relationships with others. It shows that they are calm and comfortable enough to allow others to express their opinions without forcing their own opinions on them.
Being a role model. By embodying what respect means, partners can inspire each other, friends, and family to choose respect, too.

What is an Unhealthy Relationship?

An unhealthy relationship has an imbalance in which one partner tries to exercise control and power over the other through threats, emotional/verbal abuse, or physical or sexual violence. The following qualities may be signs of an unhealthy dating relationship. Although anyone can be involved in a less-than-perfect relationship, these behaviors may be seen as “red flags” that something might be wrong in a relationship.

Control. One dating partner makes all the decisions and tells the other what to do, what to wear, or who to spend time with.
Dependence. One dating partner feels that he or she “cannot live without” the other. He or she may threaten to do something drastic if the relationship ends.
Dishonesty. One dating partner lies to or keeps information from the other. One dating partner steals from the other.
Disrespect. One dating partner makes fun of the opinions and interests of the other partner. He or she may destroy something that belongs to the other dating partner.
Hostility. One dating partner conflicts with or antagonizes the other dating partner. This may lead the other dating partner to “walk on egg shells” to avoid upsetting the other.
Intimidation. One dating partner tries to control aspects of the other’s life by making the other partner fearful or timid. One dating partner may attempt to keep his or her partner from friends and family or threaten violence or a break-up.
Physical violence. One partner uses force to get his or her way (such as hitting, slapping, grabbing, or shoving).
Sexual violence. One dating partner pressures or forces the other into sexual activity against his or her will or without consent.

Source: CDC

Facebook, Twitter and Web Connections June 29, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Prevention, Teenage Relationships, Uncategorized, What We're Up To.
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One of the things that we found when trying to research dating violence prevention and education is that there was no one website that had links to further information – it was scattered across the net.  The goal of this blog piece is to create a resource page for Unfollow Charlie which includes Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and website addresses.  Please take a look at these resources and follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep abreast of the latest information in the struggle to prevent intimate partner violence.

A Call to Men: An Organization Dedicated to Engaging Men in Prevention Efforts to End Violence and Discrimination Against Women and Girls.
 Facebook home page  Website home page: http://www.acalltomen.org/

A Thin Line: MTV’s A Thin Line campaign was developed to empower you to identify, respond to, and stop the spread of digital abuse in your life and amongst your peers. The campaign is built on the understanding that there’s a “thin line” between what may begin as a harmless joke and something that could end up having a serious impact on you or someone else. We know no generation has ever had to deal with this, so we want to partner with you to help figure it out. On-air, online and on your cell, we hope to spark a conversation and deliver information that helps you draw your own digital line. Facebook home page Follow on Twitter: @A_Thin_Line Website home page: http://www.athinline.org/

Break the Cycle: Break the Cycle believes everyone has the right to safe and healthy relationships. We are the leading, national nonprofit organization addressing teen dating violence. We work every day towards our mission to engage, educate and empower youth to build lives and communities free from domestic violence.  Facebook home page Follow on Twitter: @BreaktheCycleDV  Website home page: http://www.breakthecycle.org/

Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence: Our mission is to aid in the prevention of partner violence by leveraging the strength and resources of the corporate community. We believe that business plays an essential role in raising awareness of the issue and that our sustained efforts will help reduce and ultimately eliminate partner violence. Facebook home page  Website home page: http://www.caepv.org/

Love Is Not Abuse: Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc. has been working to end domestic violence. Through its Love is Not Abuse program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, children, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic.   Facebook home page Follow on Twitter: @Love_IsNotAbuse  Website home page: www.loveisnotabuse.com

National Sexual Violence Resource Center:The National Sexual Violence Resource Center serves as the nation’s principle information and resource center regarding all aspects of sexual violence. It provides national leadership, consultation and technical assistance by generating and facilitating the development and flow of information on sexual violence intervention and prevention strategies. The NSVRC works to address the causes and impact of sexual violence through collaboration, prevention efforts and the distribution of resources. Facebook home page Follow on Twitter: @NSVRC  Website home page: http://www.nsvrc.org/

VAWNet, The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women: The goal of VAWnet, The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women is to use electronic communication technology to enhance efforts to prevent violence against women and intervene more effectively when it occurs.  VAWnet supports local, state, and national prevention and intervention strategies that enhance safety and well-being and address the self-identified needs and concerns of victims and survivors. Facebook home page  Follow on Twitter:@VAWNet Website home page: www.vawnet.org

An app for Teen Dating June 27, 2011

Posted by Alicia in Teenage Relationships.
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A new app is available for smartphones which has a wealth of information to help teens recognize unhealthy dating relationships, ways to get help, and how to help others.  td411, or teen dating information, was developed by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence with a $45,000 grant from the state.  The Coalition organized twenty teen focus groups to give their input about the design and content of the app.   The Institute for Community Research in Hartford and the Center for Youth Leadership in Norwalk worked with the Coalition to develop content that appeals to teens at the appropriate developmental level.

The app has colorful post-it-note style headings (Ur Relationships & U, Helpin’ u out, Do ur Part, and Interactive Fun) which have subheadings designed on a notebook background.  Under the heading “Ur relationships and U” the technology subsection has ten warning signs followed by videos to raise awareness about cell phone misuse and the consequences of sexting.  The subsection “Helpin’ u Out”  has concise lists of rights and responsibilites and a pledge for respecting oneself and others.  The app encourages teens to think about their values and boundaries and focuses on how to adhere to them. (more…)

Two Organizations Helping Men Teach Boys To Respect Women June 22, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Prevention, Teenage Relationships, What We're Up To.
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Fathers, coaches, and teachers play an important role in shaping boys’ attitudes toward women.  A Call to Men and Love Is Not Abuse are two organizations that are helping men to understand what they can to do help prevent violence and discrimination against women and girls.

From A Call to Men, here is a list of Ten Things Men Can Do:

1. Acknowledge and understand how male dominance and aspects of unhealthy manhood are at the foundation of domestic and sexual violence.

2. Examine and challenge our individual beliefs and the role that we play in supporting men who are abusive.

3. Recognize and stop colluding with other men by getting out of our socially defined roles, and take a stance to prevent domestic and sexual violence.

4. Remember that our silence is affirming. When we choose not to speak out against domestic and sexual violence, we are supporting it.

5. Educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about our responsibility in preventing domestic and sexual violence.

6.”Break out of the man box”- Challenge traditional images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand in domestic and sexual violence prevention.

7. Accept and own our responsibility that domestic and sexual violence will not end until men become part of the solution to end it. We must take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence and discrimination against women and girls.

8. Stop supporting the notion that domestic and sexual violence is due to mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress, etc… Domestic and sexual violence is rooted in male dominance and the
socialization of men.

9. Take responsibility for creating appropriate and effective ways to educate and raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence prevention.

10. Create responsible and accountable men’s initiatives in your community to support domestic and sexual violence prevention.

For the brochure Tough Talk – What Boys Need to Know About Relationship Abuse from Liz Claiborne’s Love Is Not Abuse, please click here.

Dating Violence Education Curricula June 16, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Education, Prevention, Teenage Relationships.
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Schools have different goals for their prevention/education programs and different resources to achieve those goals.  Here is a list of some of the established curricula to help achieve those goals.

Break the Cycle:  This is an LA based organization.  It’s curriculum has a focus on the role of law enforcement and how to obtain protection orders.  For more information, please click here.

Choose Respect:  This is the Center for Disease Control’s curriculum to encourage healthy relationships.  It is free of charge.  For more information, please click here.

Expect Respect: This is the curriculum that was developed in Austin, TX for A Safe Place which has been educating teens since 1998.  This curriculum has a fee.  For more information, please click here.

Love Is Not Abuse:  This is the website and curriculum developed by Liz Claiborne Inc.  It is also free of charge.  For general information about dating abuse, please click here.  For a copy of the free curriculum, register here.

Safe Dates:  This curriculum was developed for teens by Hazelden, who has also developed curriculum for teens regarding substance abuse.  Start Strong uses this curriculum and the CDC has also used this curriculum.  For more information, please click here.

Breathing Underwater June 8, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Teenage Relationships, What We're Up To.
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Breathing Underwater Cover

Oftentimes art can be an effective instructional tool.  Breathing Underwater is a novel by Alex Flinn which tells the story of a teenage couple in Florida whose relationship becomes violent.  The book is used in the Love Is Not Abuse curriculum and is required summer reading before enterring ninth grade in Rhode Island.

The protagonist, Nick, is not the usual heroic type.  There are times when the reader won’t like Nick.  He’s a sophomore in high school who is navigating the uncharted waters of being a boyfriend for the first time.  He can be jealous, petty and even cruel.  His girlfriend Catlin is attractive and talented yet lacking in self-esteem.  Their union is peppered with intoxicating tender moments of first love, but dominated by Nick’s control issues.

While the story can be heavy handed at times, it is an effective teaching aid about what is not a healthy relationship.  Nick wants to separate Caitlin from her friends, is controlling, calls her names – some of the warning signs of a potentially violent relationship.

Excerpt:  In the novel, Nick recounts his relationship with Caitlin (also called Cat), whom he abused physically, verbally, and emotionally for most of their relationship. In this scene, Caitlin and Nick, who have been dating for a few months, are in Nick’s car, driving over a long two-lane bridge. Caitlin has just told Nick that she feels they need to talk about the way he treats her. Nick fears that she is going to tell him that she wants to end the relationship.

EXCERPT USED IN LOVE IS NOT ABUSE CURRICULUM:

“I heard you. I’m deciding how to respond.” She could not leave me. As I hit the word respond, I pulled to the left, veering into the southbound lane. Then I floored it past three cars. A southbound Volvo station wagon slammed its brakes within yards of us. The driver was honking, yelling. I pulled back into the northbound lane and flipped him off. I looked at Caitlin. Her mouth hung in mid-scream. I laughed.

“Do you trust me, Cat?” She was silent. I leaned closer. “Did I ever tell you about my mother?” Caitlin recovered enough to shake her head no, and I said, “I was four, five, I’d lie awake nights, listening to her and my dad fighting, him hitting her.” I looked at Caitlin. “You want to hear this?”

She nodded.

“I thought we’d pack up and leave someday, her and I. I lived for that day.” On the wheel, my knuckles were white. “Then, one morning, I wake up, and she’s gone, never came back. She ran from the monster and left me there with him.”

Caitlin removed her sunglasses. “I’m sorry, Nick.”

“So you talk about trust, it’s pretty important. I mean, when the one person you trust just picks up and leaves…”

Caitlin’s hand slipped across my shoulder. I tried to shrug her off, swerving left into traffic, then back. Terror filled Caitlin’s eyes. Her nails ripped my flesh. “Trust me, Cat?” She could not leave me. I swerved again. “’Cause if you haven’t figured it out, life doesn’t mean much to me. Without you, it’s worthless.”

A flock of seagulls headed across my windshield. She could not leave me. I swerved again, this time counting three before I veered back. She could not leave me. Caitlin screamed at me to stop.

“What’s the matter?” When she didn’t answer, I swerved again. “Oh—this. Maybe you’re right.” I straightened the wheel, looking beyond her to the orange and green water east of the bridge. Silence. I didn’t swerve. Nothing. We were halfway across. Caitlin relaxed.

Suddenly, I said, “Think I could make a right here?” Right was into water. I made like I’d do it, crash through the guardrail, then down. Caitlin screamed. She grabbed for the wheel. I shoved her away so her fingers clawed the air. She tried again, gripping both my hands. The car swerved left into the path of a Bronco towing a boat. I pulled it back. My mind knew what she was doing, but my eyes didn’t. I couldn’t see her. She was shrieking. God, shut up! Her voice deafened me, and it was all around, in my ears, making me lose all control. She tried to grab the wheel. Blind and deaf, I drove, sun hot on my face. I had to get her off me. God, I just had to get her off me. Get her off me! Get off me! Get off!

Next thing I knew, I was driving on land. I couldn’t tell you whether it was minutes or hours later. Caitlin hung across the seat, head cradled in her fingers. My hand throbbed, and I knew I’d hit her. I’d hit her. I was tired. She’d worn me out, but the anger inside me dissolved, replaced by that regret. But I’d had to stop her. She’d been irrational, overwrought, shouldn’t have touched the wheel. She could have killed us. I looked at her. The seat was the length of a football field. Caitlin faced the window. She was so beautiful. Ahead was a red pickup with a Jesus fish. It was going at a good clip, but when we reached the next passing zone, I overtook it and a few other cars. Cat stiffened. I merged back into traffic and reached to stroke her hair.

She lifted her head, cautious as a runner stealing home, and stared.

“Are you all right, Caitlin?” I asked.  When she didn’t answer, I repeated the question.

She shook her head. “You hit me.”

I told her no. I hadn’t. I mean, she was grabbing the wheel. We’d almost creamed the Bronco. I had to get her off me before we got killed.

“Because you were driving off the bridge,” she said.

I laughed and said she knew me better. . . I’d never do it for real. Besides, we’d have crashed the guardrail, and I’d have gotten killed for wrecking the car.

“But you hit me, Nick.” She leaned out the window toward the sideview mirror to see if her cheek was getting red.

And it was. I didn’t expect it to be red, but it was—a little. I hadn’t hit her hard, just enough to get her off me. I said, “Don’t you know you shouldn’t grab the wheel when someone’s driving?”

“But I thought—“

She was pretty shaken. Mad maybe? I pulled her close. “Sorry I freaked you out, Kittycat.  I forget you aren’t used to guys. You don’t know we play rough sometimes.” She kept protesting, and I said, “You know what I was thinking? I wanted to buy you a ring. You know, like a symbol, since we’re going together. What’s your birthstone?”

Still, she stared like her life was flashing before her eyes. “You hit me, Nick.”

I kissed her. She drew away, and I pulled her back. “Your birthday’s in February, right?  I’ll ask the jeweler what the stone is.”

I held her close until she stopped struggling. The sun was down, but it wasn’t dark enough for a moon, and we crossed bridges connecting the islands, Big Pine Key, Plantation Key, Key Largo. Then we drove through mainland Miami a while. When we reached home, the sky above Rickenbacker Causeway was black, and Caitlin slept on my shoulder.

For the Amazon page and reviews, please click here.

For a teacher’s guide from the author’s website, please click here.