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Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month: Know the Signs to Stop Abuse

Staff from Oswego County Opportunities' Services to Aid Families display materials they will be using to help raise awareness of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. From left are advocate / educators Melissa Cannady, Kelsey Gillette, Sara Gozzi and school advocate Jamie Drake.

Staff from Oswego County Opportunities' Services to Aid Families display materials they will be using to help raise awareness of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. From left are advocate / educators Melissa Cannady, Kelsey Gillette, Sara Gozzi and school advocate Jamie Drake.

OSWEGO, NY – Oswego County Opportunities’ Services to Aid Families, the domestic violence and rape crisis response program for Oswego County, reminds everyone that February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

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Staff from Oswego County Opportunities’ Services to Aid Families display materials they will be using to help raise awareness of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. From left are advocate / educators Melissa Cannady, Kelsey Gillette, Sara Gozzi and school advocate Jamie Drake.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner. It is also known that 3 in 4 parents, or about 75%, have never talked to their children about domestic or dating violence.

In 2013, a community needs assessment survey conducted with students from several Oswego County high schools found that 46% of the students who completed the survey identified that their partner has to know where and who they are with or talk to, has to know what they are doing all or most of time, picks which friends are or aren’t OK for them to have and uses looks, actions, gestures, destroying things, showing weapons or hurting his/her pets as a way to intimidate or scare them.

Despite these startling numbers, most teens never tell anyone they are in an abusive relationship and most parents cannot identify all of the warning signs of an abusive relationship.

In light of these statistics, Services to Aid Families and its community partners have joined forces to develop policies to increase victim safety and encourage reporting, increase awareness and provide training to community members and school staff about dating violence, sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking, as well as highlight positive practices, and encourage communities to get involved.

“Many teens and parents don’t realize that abuse refers to more than just physical violence,” said OCO Services to Aid Families Advocate / Educator Melissa Cannady. “Emotional abuse and verbal abuse can leave scars that are more difficult to heal, and are often left unseen. Consequences include a higher risk of substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, suicide, and adult re-victimization. Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month helps shed light on this epidemic.”

In recognition of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month SAF will be a part of a nation-wide movement to celebrate Respect Week, held every year during the week of Valentine’s Day.

During Respect Week, SAF will provide announcements to schools to read and post on their video screens.

These announcements will educate youth and faculty about the staggering number of teens who deal with relationship abuse, types of controlling and abusive behaviors, and where individuals can go for help.

Oswego High School will also be participating in the Red Flag Campaign, having students anonymously write out unhealthy and abusive behaviors that they have witnessed or experienced for display throughout the halls.

“This month provides an excellent opportunity for communities in Oswego County to demonstrate their commitment to ending teen dating violence and supporting the numerous victims and survivors who are among us,” said Cannady. “We encourage community members to join us as we participate in ‘Wear Orange Day’ on February 14. This national day of awareness is held every year to bring attention to the epidemic of teen dating violence and promote safe and healthy relationships. We ask those that do choose to participate to post a picture of themselves or a group wearing orange on social media. Be sure to use the hashtags #OswegoWearsOrange, #Orange4Love, and #RespectWeek2017 to help get this national event trending on.”

“Now is the time to educate ourselves about the seriousness of teen dating violence and the prevalence of this epidemic in our lives. Support your family and friends by encouraging them to engage in healthy relationships. Speak out in your community to help end teen dating violence. Check us out on Facebook at Services to Aid Families and share our status updates and links to show you support teens and healthy relationships, and message us for recommended resources,” added Cannady.

If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, please call the Crisis Hotline at (315) 342-1600.

The hotline is staffed by trained counselors and is available 24 hours a day.

SAF is the domestic violence and rape crisis program for Oswego County and has provided crisis, supportive, advocacy and educational services throughout Oswego County for more than 30 years.

A private, non-profit agency, OCO touches the lives of approximately 20,000 people each year through more than 50 programs operating in 100 locations throughout Oswego County.

The agency, which is a United Way of Greater Oswego County member, employs nearly 600 people and has more than 1,200 highly valued volunteers.

For more information, visit www.oco.org.