Being slapped in the face so hard it leaves a hand print, being punched so hard you have a black eye for a week, or being shoved to the ground so hard your head bleeds; this relationship abuse is happening in every age group, every race, every gender, every religion, everywhere, and the cycle is never ending. How could someone who loves you so much physically, emotionally or even sexually hurt you?
This is the reality for millions of adults and teenagers across the nation – they are trapped in a living, breathing nightmare, and there is almost no way out.
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Eaglecrest provides policies to help victims of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used by the abuser to gain or maintain control over the victim,” states the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence website (www.ccadv.org). CCADV is committed to strengthening the help available to victims and promoting change within the community.
Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Kerri Zylstra, in an interview via email, said there are many different forms of abuse: “Emotional abuse is name calling, bullying or embarrassing you on purpose and keeping you away from family and friends. Physical abuse is when a partner is pinched, hit, shoved or kicked. Sexual abuse is forcing a partner to engage in [a sexual] act when the other partner does not or cannot consent.”
“One in four adolescents is abused in some way or form each year,” Zylstra said. “A teen that sees these warning signs [needs] to get out of the relationship as soon as possible. The behaviors may not seem like a big deal, but as time goes on they only intensify and get worse.”
On average three women are killed by a current or former partner, and one in six women are victims of sexual assault. But domestic violence isn’t just a woman’s trouble; men are victims of relationship abuse as well. This means that on average, at least one of your close friends, man or woman has been or will go through some sort of abuse.
“[If one of my friends was involved in an abusive relationship], I would tell an adult here at school or a counselor so they could get help,” said junior Samantha Cripe. Many students agree that if they knew of someone who was a victim of abuse, they would tell an adult at school. And they are right; school officials know the best way to help teenagers with relationship problems and safety concerns.
If you think you may be a victim of domestic violence, then you need to know that there is help available for you. School counselors are always available to talk if you feel that you are in danger and will help you deal with getting out of that relationship; you can also see the School Resource Officer (SRO), Amanda Cruz, or any other police in the community.
However, each case is situation specific. When a student is being abused, there are certain steps that the school must take in order to ensure safety within the school.
“First, we talk to the parents of the victim and the parents of the perptrater. Then we tell the SRO about the situation. We then have to educate both parties about what is right and what is wrong,” said School Psychologist Eric Zimmerman.
“The ultimate goal is to keep people safe, and we need to do whatever it takes to make sure that students are safe,” Zimmerman said.
If you would like to raise awareness in your community, visit the Love is Respect website at www.loveisrespect.org for event ideas that you can organize and run through school, such as starting a Dating Abuse Awareness club or using the internet to spread the word and inspire change.