Expert offers hard hitting advice on preventing teen dating violence
- The FBI reports that 30% of women who are murdered in the U.S. are killed by their boyfriends, husbands or exes.
- One-third of teenagers have reported being physically, emotionally or verbal abused by a dating partner, according to a recent Liz Claiborne survey.
- The CDC reports that women ages 16-24 experience the highest per capita rates of intimate violence and 20-25% of college women in the U.S. will experience attempted or completed rape during college.
New Jersey based counselor Dari-Dyrness Olsen, is author of the new book Safe Dating for College Women. For the past 10 years she’s traveled all across the United States teaching college women how to prevent date rape and dating abuse. Dari says that kids today don’t even know when they are being abused or being abusive because it has sadly become the societal norm. Her slogan is “Safe dating is smart dating!”
Here is some of the most important advice she has for young women about how to prevent being a victim of date rape or abuse:
Love is Blind – Relationships don’t start off abusive. Dating abuse slowly rears its ugly head over a period of time. Don’t miss the subtle warning signs right in the beginning of a relationship that tell you this person is toxic and the relationship will be unhealthy. Don’t be blinded by a fairytale fantasy.
Know the Red Flags of Dating Abuse – Dating abuse is all about power and control over another person. Ask yourself right now:
Do you fight a lot?
Is he mean to you?
Does he make you feel bad about yourself?
Does he have an angry streak?
Does he put you down or call you names?
Does he text you obsessively & need to know where you are, who you are with & what you are doing?
Is he jealous?
Does he accuse you of cheating?
Does he want you to spend all of your time with him and no one else?
If you have answered yes to any, some, most, or all of these questions, then you need to seek help immediately. You are in an abusive dating relationship.
Set the Bar High – You deserve to be in a safe, healthy, and loving relationship. Raise your standards on who you become intimate with. Don’t feel like you have to “hook up” or “hang out” with no commitment or strings attached. Expect, request, require, demand more than just a one-night stand. Don’t accept the role of sex toy. Let your partners know that you expect to be loved, respected, and treated like gold. Have a relationship that is based on mutual respect, loving behavior, honesty, trust, and fun.
Know That The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree – If you or the person you are dating grew up in an abusive family, realize that the task before you is harder than for those who didn’t. Get help now. Don’t passively just allow yourself to follow in your parents’ footsteps. Seek counseling and support so that you develop and maintain the strength and character needed to evolve above inherited patterns of violence and abuse. Ask yourself right now:
Do you or your date have a family history of abuse?
Were either of you physically, verbally, or sexually abused as a child?
Was either of you abused by his father?
Do either of you have broken family relationships?
Do either of you have substance abuse issues?
If you have answered yes to any, some, most, or all of these questions, then there is a very good chance that your relationship will become abusive, if it isn’t already.
Never Depend on a Guy – NEVER depend on anyone else to take care of you. Men use money to control women, especially if they have young children to support. Don’t get in or stay in an abusive relationship just because you think you can’t take care of yourself or have no other help or support. You can do it. Learn to take care of yourself! Do well in school, learn how to make, invest, and manage your own money, and have a great career that fulfills you. The only person you can ever truly depend on is YOURSELF!
Don’t Think That a Leopard Can Change Its’ Spots – Don’t stay in an abusive relationships hoping that he will change. HE WON’T EVER CHANGE. The most important first step is for YOU to want to change and admit you have a problem. Pay close attention to what is occurring. Are you walking on eggshells all of the time stressed out about making him mad? Has the volcano erupted and the abuser taken out all of his frustration verbally, physically, or emotionally on you? Don’t think that the abuse will end. Dating abuse goes through this cycle over and over again, until YOU decide to get off the rollercoaster.
BREAKING UP WITH AN ABUSER CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING TO DO!
Dari also says that every women should create and have safety plan ready in case she needs one or has to help someone else.
BEFORE YOU BREAK UP WITH YOUR ABUSIVE BOYFRIEND, YOU MUST HAVE A SAFETY PLAN. YOU ARE IN THE MOST PHYSICAL DANGER RIGHT AFTER BREAKING UP WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND.
Here are the key elements that are needed:
First Step – Program the following numbers into YOUR CELL PHONE: 1. the names and phone numbers of campus police, 2. campus counseling center, 3. the local police station, and 4. at least 3 people (on speed dial) that you can call in case of an emergency. Make sure that your cell phone is always charged.
Second Step – Get help from an adult, a campus counselor, or a private counselor as soon as possible. Tell as many people as possible about your situation, so they know that you could be in danger.
Third Step – If he has threatened you, tell people right away. Do not keep it to yourself. Get somewhere safe right away. Go to the campus security office or police station, tell them what happened and file a restraining order.
Fourth Step – Start and keep a journal and document what is going on listing dates, times, witnesses, and what was said or done, as well as all text messages and e-mails. If you’ve been hurt, see a doctor right away! This is your physical proof if you need to go to court.
Fifth Step – Do not EVER meet with your boyfriend alone after you have broken up with him no matter what, even if he threatens to hurt or kill himself. This is how girls are murdered.
Sixth Step – Stop talking to him totally: Block all forms of communication with him via phone, computer, or in person. End it. Run away from him if you see him anywhere fast.
Get regular counseling (every day if you need it) to help you get through this difficult time.
For more information regarding her book or teen dating violence, visit: www.SafeDatingCoach.com
About Dari Dyrness-Olsen
Dari Dyrness-Olsen, MA, LPC is nationally known as “America’s Safe Dating Coach”. She is currently working with NJ legislators on passing the “Safe Dating Law” that will require all public middle and high schools to add Safe Dating Curriculum to their annual health curriculum. Dari is also working with the national organization Love is Not Abuse and other states to model what she is doing in NJ.
Update: On January 31, 2011, Dari Dyrness-Olsen testified before the New Jersey State Senate. The SAFE DATING LAW (Senate Bill A2920) passed unanimously. The bill requires the Board of Education to develop a policy to prevent and address dating violence at school and to develop dating violence training materials to be posted on its website.
- Bipartisan Bill to Address Teen Dating Violence Given Green Light by Assembly (gloucestercitynews.net)
- Teen Dating Violence (keepwomenhealthy.com)
- Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (carololson.wordpress.com)
Safe Dating for College Women ~
7 Secrets for Dating Safely, Building High Self-Esteem & Developing Healthy Relationships