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Archived Messages from the Director

A Message from Acting Director Mary Beth Buchanan

A Message on Teen Dating Violence from the Acting Director - February 2007

A Message from Acting Director Mary Beth Buchanan

Domestic violence continues to invade the public and private lives of women, men, and children, impacting families, friends, co-workers, and communities.  These behaviors--whether physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological—continue to occur in all homes regardless of education, income-level, or geography.

I encourage all individuals and groups to use October, designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to help raise awareness.  Domestic violence is not only a personal tragedy, it is a serious crime that negatively affects women, men, children, neighborhoods and communities.  We must join together to address the causes of this crime so that each and every home can be a place of peace and safety.

The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) continues to make vital contributions to help those negatively impacted by domestic violence.  In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, OVW has launched a powerful public service announcement (PSA), airing this month, to continue to raise awareness and increase education.  This PSA, entitled “End It Now,” will target men, women, children, and the general public.  Our goals at OVW are to encourage prevention and facilitate a greater public dialogue.

On August 28, 2007, I attended the grand opening of the New Orleans Family Justice Center.  OVW made $3 million available to help create this support center, where victims can find the services they need in one central location.  Through programs like the Family Justice Center communities are being transformed.

Let us take the opportunity this month to speak out and help others who have been impacted by domestic violence.  I urge you to actively participate and show your support for Domestic Violence Awareness Month by getting involved with your state or local domestic violence program.  At OVW we believe, “working together to end the violence” is the first step.  We are all agents of change, whether we work locally in the community or as part of a large government agency.  Thank you for doing your part to raise awareness.


A Message on Teen Dating Violence From the Acting Director - February 2007

Twenty percent of teenage girls and young women have experienced some form of dating violence. Female victims of teen dating violence are also at greater risk for many other issues, such as substance abuse, sexual activity, pregnancy, and suicide. The seriousness of dating violence among teens will be observed this year during the week of February 5-9 for the second National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.

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.

The keys to preventing dating violence are education and early detection.  Many schools are instituting programs to prevent and address dating violence, and there are multiple campaigns and resources available from across the country.  One resource, developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was launched in 2006 called the “Choose Respect” campaign.  It is an initiative to help adolescents form healthy relationships and prevent dating abuse.  It includes a variety of materials such as posters, online games, television and radio spots, activity ideas, and quizzes that inspire youth to choose respect. The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) has begun to collaborate with the CDC on this important initiative, and believes that choosing respect can be the beginning of a long road to healthy relationships that will translate into adulthood.

Combating teen dating violence is a priority for OVW, and was emphasized when President Bush signed the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 through new grant programs and amendments to existing criminal provisions. 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.

Through these, and many future efforts, we can educate teens and others about the seriousness of teen dating violence in the hopes that early detection will be able to prevent these crimes from occurring. 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.


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