Friday, October 17, 2008

High School Violence

High School years are a time of growing, of backpacks and lockers, homecoming and prom...and for some teens a time marred by a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship that spins into violence. "Approximately one in five female high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner," according to statistics. I remember when the stat was 1 in 6; the problem is growing larger or more girls are feeling freer to report the violence.

I have heard the stories of betrayal from many women and I too was raped in high school. I remember the sunny afternoon when my boyfriend tricked me into going to his home while his mother was at work. I called his home to check on him (no one had cell phones yet) because he had missed classes. He claimed he was so ill he he couldn't make it to the kitchen to get any water to drink. He had a severe flu and he wondered if I could come over and bring him some water.

We had been dating for almost a year. I felt nervous, however, about going over to his home without parental supervision, because he'd been pushing me the previous couple of months to say "yes" to sex. I felt I was too young and didn't want to have sex until I was married someday down the road.

But despite my feelings of caution, my sympathies were aroused. He must be so weak...he sounded so weak. What could a few minutes matter? I hurried over after school and called out to say I was there, filled a water glass, and grabbed a Popsicle for the poor guy. I headed for his room...but he wasn't there. Then he called out to me that he was in his mom's room so he could be close to her bathroom.A few moments later, I found out that he was far from weak. He overpowered me easily.

I'm sharing these details as an introduction to share important information with any teens or parents of teens who might be reading this post. This is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and teen experiences of dating violence are an important matter that can lay the ground work for young men and women later falling prey to a violent marriage partner.

Did you know...
- teens are most often raped by someone they are dating, not by a stranger wandering the streets
- some teenage girls and boys are grabbed, tripped, bruised, or hit by their dating partner
- a beverage is frequently the delivery method for date rape drugs that can render intended victims defenseless
- violence in a dating situation is a traumatic betrayal that can send a teen on a downward spiral of lowered self-esteem and new behaviors. A drastic change in clothing (to either baggy clothes to hide behind or sexualized clothing), cutting, anorexia, sudden anger explosions at family members are some possible reactions.
- adolescent and teen boys can also be victims of rape at the hands of a male friend (often an older friend)?

If you're a teen who has been violated by a date or a friend, tell someone who can help. If your family is not a safe haven, consider talking to a school counselor, a doctor, a teacher you respect, a coach, or a pastor. Stuffed inside, the pain will only grow bigger and more damaging so seek help. If the first person offers nothing helpful try another trusted person. Dealing with the situation while you are young will help you considerably in your future. No one can fix what happened, but with proper help you can begin healing. Right now you might helpless and hopeless...don't give up; get help.

If you are a parent or friend who is concerned about a teen, consider sharing your concern and asking direct questions. If that doesn't reveal anything, you can give your teen an article or book to read that gives information to read about date rape and teen violence. Or you can give your teen some hotline phone numbers in case she or he or one of their friends ever has a relevant need.

For more information try:
--RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) 1-800-656-HOPE

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Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft