Teen dating violence on rise; girls both victims and abusers - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Teen dating violence on rise; girls both victims and abusers

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Sometimes, it's difficult to recognize dating abuse, especially among young people.

New research from the American Psychological Association shows one in three people between the ages of 14 and 20, say they've been victims of dating violence.

"They need to learn the skills for having a healthy relationship. Some kids don't get that at home and they may not have healthy role models in their lives," Director of Expect Respect, Barri Rosenbluth said.

Expect Respect is a program that helps about 1,000 teens in the Austin area each year.

"Young people who are in abusive relationships are at greater risk for substance abuse, risky sexual behavior, suicide, pregnancy, STI's and other serious consequences," Rosenbluth said.

Researchers also found girls are almost just as likely to be a perpetrator of dating violence.

Forty-one percent reported being victims and 35 percent admitted to being the culprit at some point.

"I think there's been more attention in the media and certainly more education in schools about this important issue. It causes us to look at our lives and our behaviors in a new light," Rosenbluth said.

From the Travis County courts, the most recent arrest reports show five separate incidents of assault dating violence in just a two day span.

One of them involved a deadly weapon and two out of the five have male victims.

"The relationship you have with your teen and your partner, will shape how your teen relates to other people," Rosenbluth said.

Parents should be aware of warning signs like changes in your teen's clothing style, sleep patterns and mood.

"If they start giving up activities with their friends or activities that they used to enjoy so that they can spend more time with their partner, that's a red flag," Rosenbluth said.

According to specific offense reports we obtained from Travis County, there were 263 cases of assault and strangulation between married couples and people living together within the past six months.

Expect Respect programs also focus on leadership skills and bullying.

"Behaviors that look a lot like bullying among younger children can lead to dating and sexual violence later on," Rosenbluth said.

Expect Respect support groups are available on 25 different school campuses. The nearly 1,000 teens they serve is only limited because of staffing. They have a waiting lists for their services.

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