National statistics show one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of some form of abuse from a dating partner. With February designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, anti-violence organizations are raising awareness about the issue while educating and helping those affected by this type of youth violence.
SafeHouse Denver created its teen dating violence prevention and education program five years ago. The goal is to educate youth to recognize the signs of abusive and healthy relationships, understand why people engage in abuse and provide them with tips on removing themselves, friends or family from an abusive relationship. SafeHouse Denver has been a HopeLine grant recipient since 2009. HopeLine from Verizon connects survivors of domestic violence to vital resources, funds organizations nationwide and helps protect the environment.
“As people have recognized the issue of teen dating violence, we have seen more of a need come to light in the community, and more people seeking help,” said Jessica Wall, grants manager at SafeHouse Denver.
SafeHouse Denver’s teen dating violence program targets not only young men and women, but also parents and members of the legal community.
“It creates more community awareness,” said Wall. “We are trying to identify a problem, and get individuals help at a young age. This way, we can hopefully prevent abuse from happening again in the future.”
Over the years, SafeHouse Denver’s program has been used at community centers and even in high schools across the Denver metro area.
“The easier we can make it for a victim to access our services, the better the chance they will get help,” said Wall. “Victims need to know they are not alone, it is not their fault, and that we are here to help.”