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Why Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Matters

As a young teen in my first year of high school, there is a lot of ignorance that goes around that makes me really think… whether it’s overhearing a conversation or it’s happening right in front of my face. The topics range from silly confusion over the grade someone got on their math test to serious topics such as domestic violence.

I was sitting in Physics recently when one of the boys in my class who I consider a good friend brought up the topic of Chris Brown and Rihanna’s dating abuse. He said Rihanna was obviously okay with the “abuse” if she went back to him.

Since I volunteer at A Woman’s Place (AWP) and am a very big advocate of preventing domestic violence, it was difficult to not be insulted or become defensive over what I just heard. I tried putting myself in his shoes because I knew he wasn’t familiar with the effects of domestic violence.

There are many reasons that people stay with or return to an abuser. They may fear for the well-being of their children. They may no longer have the support of friends or family because their abuser has spent years isolating them. They may have been taught by their religion or culture that it is wrong to leave and feel guilt about doing so. As appears to have been the case with Rihanna, they may truly love their partner and want to help them.

Yet after explaining that other circumstances that could have been involved, my friend still stuck with his preconceived notion that the “abuse” really didn’t affect Rihanna if she went back to Chris Brown and is now “okay.”

What surprised me with this conversation was not only the true ignorance of what my friend said, but how no one else even seemed to be affected by the conversation like I was. No one said anything that necessarily agreed with his view… no one said anything at all. That day, I learned that people don’t have to speak out loud to show they agree, but sometimes not saying anything at all shows you where they stand. The discussion got me pondering the reaction if other topics were approached the same way. What if I had said, for example, “Slavery obviously didn’t really affect African Americans because we are now united and have the same rights.” The discussion would have gone in a totally different direction. Some people seem to think that since we live in a culture that currently treats women this way that it will always be that way.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in February really needs to be discussed more. We can’t hold people’s ignorance against them because domestic violence prevention isn’t talked about as much as it should be. Chris Brown and Rihanna’s dating abuse may not have happened while they were teenagers, but their relationship makes a big impression on teenagers. These stars are some of teenagers’ biggest idols and they ultimately influence teenagers’ views on dating abuse.

If we come together as a community and show not only teenagers but everyone that dating violence is unacceptable, we can make the message of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month heard all year round.

Madison
AWP teen volunteer

One Response to Why Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Matters

  1. Tiffany says:

    I completely agree with you, Madison. Even as an adult, you hear of this couple “getting back together” or see them together, I can only imagine how teenagers would perceive the situation. No one really knows what goes on between the two of them, they only see what the news and tabloids will show. I’ve even heard my own mother make a comment to their situation. “how can she release some of the songs with the subject matter and then stay with someone who will abuse her, she must not mind it so much”…I’m glad that you spoke up, even if the direct outcome was he still stuck to what he was saying. Hopefully he went home later in the day and thought about it or that conversation will come back to him at another time and it will make him really think twice :-) Great post!

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