The recent alleged altercation between Chris Brown and Rihanna has opened up a new dialogue about relationship abuse for teens and twentysomethings. We all know speaking up is critical to getting help, but for many victims of violence, it's not easier said than done.
If you think you're a victim of domestic violence, it's important to know how to spot it, what to do when it happens and whom to reach out to in such an event. Fortunately, there are number of non-profit outlets offering help to young people dealing with abuse.
In light of the Brown/Rihanna incident, National Organization for Women (NOW) President Kim Gandy spoke out about teen dating abuse and how often times victims fail to report the matter.
"Everyone is talking about this case because it involves two popular recording artists, but the sad reality is that domestic violence and dating violence happen every day, even among young teens, and the impact is both far-reaching and under-reported," she said in a prepared statement released to the press.
In addition to long-running organizations, some college kids have created their own networks to help their peers deal with the pain of relationship abuse. It's Abuse, for example, is a campaign that was created in Columbus, Ohio, to bring awareness to and help break the silence about relationship abuse. The site features a number of quizzes designed to educate readers on what is and isn't healthy in a relationship. It also has videos to help young people identify between a number of different types of abuse.
The number of teenagers who endure abuse throughout the country is shocking, to say the least. Information from a study commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. and conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited in February 2005 shows that one in three teenagers reportedly knows a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner. In addition, 13 percent of teenage girls who said they have been in a relationship report being physically hurt or hit.
The figure that's most alarming, however, is that 73 percent of teens surveyed in the study said they would turn to a friend for help, but only 33 percent of those who have been in or known about an abusive relationship said they have told anyone.
In situations of abuse or leading up to it when the signs are recognized, it's best to talk to family or local community leaders. If you're afraid, confused or embarrassed to speak to them, there are alternative places to turn that can help you:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: NDVH.org, or 800-799-SAFE
National Teen Dating Violence Helpline: LoveIsRespect.org, or 866-331-9474
Safe Horizon: SafeHorizon.org, or 800-621-HOPE
It's Abuse: ItsAbuse.com