I helped a young woman fill out an ‘EX-Parte’ petition (restraining order) today. After I was done asking her questions in order to fill out the paperwork, I gave her a brochure I created about “Red Flags in Relationships.” As she read it she began to cry. She said, “Why didn’t anyone tell me about these? If I had known about these, I would never have gotten involved with him.”
This is a statement I hear far too often. It made me wonder if anything is being taught to our teenagers about relationship abuse. What is it and how to recognize the signs? So I did a bit of research and the answer I got was “no.” It is not taught in school, church or community centers, at least the ones I called. So the next person that asks me where am I supposed to get this information, my answer will be: nowhere. That answer breaks my heart.
We are doing our teenagers such a disservice by not giving them information that may one day save their lives. I know that sounds melodramatic but I have known people who have lost their lives to domestic violence. Families who are so stuck in a cycle of domestic abuse that almost everyone was either a victim or an abuser, going back for generations.
So here is a list of some warning signs:
We all have that little voice inside that tells us when something is not right. For the most part we have learned to disregard that part of our intuition. Either way, that nagging feeling may end up saving your life. Whether you are walking to your car in a parking garage or just had a shoving match with your significant other, you need to listen to that voice.
Domestic violence is still something that we keep a secret because of shame, embarrassment, fear and any one of a hundred other reasons. This is an issue that breaks all barriers; race, religion, socio-economics, education levels, gender, and country. We can change the number of victims but just educating ourselves on the “red flags” and speaking up when we see them. Domestic violence is no longer a “family matter” and it is time to “air the dirty laundry”.