Supporting Faith-based Victims of Dating Violence
Healthy relationships are built on mutual love, respect, and trust. Unfortunately, some relationships can become unhealthy, or even violent. When we think of intimate partner violence, we may think of violence happening within a marriage, but teens and young adults experience intimate partner violence, too. For young adults, an intimate relationship is a step above platonic friendship that usually includes a significant emotional attachment. It can happen to anyone, in any relationship, whether that relationship is casual or serious.
Dating violence is a big deal--1.5 million teens are abused by intimate partners every year. This abuse can be verbal, emotional, physical, financial, sexual, or spiritual. Even though this problem is so widespread, only a third of teens ever disclose the abuse. Additionally, violent relationships during teenage years put teens at higher risk of substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, and further domestic violence down the line.
Nobody wants to think that the young people in our congregation and communities could be experiencing dating violence. And we make it harder to disclose if we never acknowledge that dating violence is an issue.
As faith leaders and faith communities, we can learn more about how to support the young adults in our lives that may be experiencing dating violence. To get you started, please check out this booklet on dating violence, developed especially for the faith community. And to learn more, we hope that you will visit our friends at Break the Cycle, an organization that inspires and supports young people (ages 12 to 24) to build healthy relationships and create a culture without abuse.