If someone told you that your odds of winning the lottery were 1 in 3, you’d probably play, right? Those do seem like pretty good odds. But what if someone told you that today’s teens are just that likely to be affected by intimate partner or dating violence? Those numbers suddenly take on a totally different perspective.
According to Mariah Stidham Wineski, Executive Director of the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, teens and young adults are actually disproportionately affected by abuse. In fact, young women between the ages of 18-24 experience intimate partner violence at a rate almost twice the national average. “One in three high school students experience physical or sexual violence at the hands of a dating partner,” says Wineski. “One in three, in high school; it’s happening to a third of our kids and we are simply not talking about it enough.”
Domestic violence against people of all ages is extremely common in Louisiana. In fact, studies report that more than 1.2 million people across all age spans in Louisiana have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, or stalking by a partner. Wineski stresses that these statistics are very much related to teen dating violence. Domestic abuse or abuse from an intimate or dating partner often starts during the teen years. Therefore, Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s efforts are often aimed at a younger audience than one might think.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and it is important to know the signs of possible teen dating violence or abuse. According to Wineski, “Abuse often starts early, and teens who are navigating new relationships may be particularly vulnerable to experiencing abuse.” Some of the key red flags to look out for include: extreme jealousy or possessiveness, unexplained marks or bruises, partner emails or texts excessively, your child seems depressed or anxious, your child stops participating in extracurricular activities or other interests, your child stops spending time with other friends and family, your child’s partner abuses other people or animals, and you notice that your child begins to dress differently.
The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence is a network of organizations and individuals across Louisiana working together to end domestic violence. The coalition provides services to over 17,000 victims statewide each year. The network of organizations provides approximately 65,000 shelter beds a night each year. The coalition also provides a free crisis hotline which answers about 43,000 calls annually. Anyone who feels that they need services, or if they know someone who may be in an abusive relationship, can start by calling the hotline at (888) 411-1333. The hotline is available 24/7.
The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1982, however, the community can help support their efforts. Visit them online for additional information about the coalition, resources, and ways to get involved.