WASHINGTON – To continue its efforts to raise awareness and increase education of the alarming and often under-reported crime of teen dating violence, this week (Feb. 5-9), the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) is observing National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. OVW is also joining with Liz Claiborne Inc. and the Domestic Violence Hotline to launch the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (NTDAH). The NTDAH is a 24-hour national Web-based and telephone hotline that has been created to help teens (ages 13-18) experiencing dating abuse. The hotline will be the only helpline in the country serving all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Teens and parents anywhere in the country can call toll-free, 866-331-9474 or log on to the interactive Web site, http://www.loveisrespect.org, and receive immediate and confidential assistance. OVW Director Mary Beth Buchanan was the first to call into the new helpline this morning.
“Teenagers, especially young women, are too often victims of violence that goes unacknowledged and unreported,” said Mary Beth Buchanan, Acting Director of the Office on Violence Against Women. “During this National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week, and throughout the entire year, it is crucial to raise awareness about such an important issue that greatly touches the lives of so many teens. OVW has made combating this issue a priority, and we are pleased that members of the public and private sectors are helping to raise the profile of teen dating violence.”
According to recent studies, 20 percent of teenage girls and young women have experienced some form of dating violence. Teen dating violence often increases the risks of substance abuse, sexual activity, pregnancy and suicide, especially for female victims.
The Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has made combating teen dating violence a priority. In 2006, OVW convened roundtable discussions in partnership with the Department of Education and the Office of Justice Programs to discuss efforts to address teen dating violence. In 2002, OVW funded the national Teen Dating Violence Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime. The center provides communities and programs across the country with training, resources and information to increase awareness of and commitment to addressing this crime.
Liz Claiborne Inc. initiated and funded the new Web site with a multi-year, million-dollar grant as part of the company’s commitment to help end teen dating abuse in this country. The helpline and Web site will operated by the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which was established in 1996 and is a grantee of OVW. Since then, the Hotline has answered over 1.5 million calls and now responds to 16,000 calls each month, offering translations for 140 languages, a TTY line for the deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing, and now a National Helpline for Teen Dating Abuse victims.
Teen dating violence includes physical abuse as well as sexual, verbal and emotional abuse. The potential for violent behavior in an abusive relationship often escalates as the relationship becomes more serious. Victims may remain in abusive relationships for many reasons, including fear of the perpetrator, self-blame, loyalty, love for the perpetrator, social stigma, or lack of understanding. Teen dating violence crosses all gender, racial and socioeconomic lines. Although the dynamics are similar to those for adult domestic violence, teens generally have less experience with relationships, so may be less likely to recognize abuse. Some of the signs of abuse, such as jealousy or possessiveness, may be confused as signs of love.
Through its past actions and many future efforts, OVW has made educating teens and others about the seriousness of teen dating violence a priority. OVW will continue to partner with federal and private entities to increase awareness in the hopes that early detection will be able to prevent these crimes from occurring.