created at: 2013-02-13“I carry memories of my ex-boyfriend, mostly bad. I loved him so I couldn’t let go, even though he hurt me. In the beginning he was kind and charming. He was smart, he was fun, and he seemed like such a catch. His behavior changed gradually and I have to carry the mistake of giving in… I fell in the trap and thought I loved him so much that I could not stop and save myself even though he was hurting me.

“I carry a responsibility to look out for other teenage girls who may be experiencing similar challenges. I carry a responsibility to spread the message and fight back. I carry this responsibility because what I went through was so horrible that I could not bear to see another teen in an abusive relationship. Because of this I carry strength and optimism… I carry pride that I was able to put my life back together again, and I carry hope that other girls will be able to as well.”

-Excerpt from an essay written by an 18-year-old survivor of teen dating abuse.

Do you know what teen dating abuse looks like? Do you know who it happens to? Can you recognize the warning signs?

JF&CS Journey to Safety’s TeenSafe program is designed to teach youth how to recognize teen dating abuse and respond to it. As TeenSafe participants, we have learned that abuse is about control. It’s not only physical but also verbal, emotional, financial, sexual, and spiritual. It can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, religion, race, or economic status. It’s really common, but it shouldn’t be. Teen dating abuse continues to be an issue because many teens and adults don’t think or believe it exists. If teens or adults don’t think teen dating abuse exists, then they don’t know when it’s happening. This is why we want to teach others to recognize the signs of abuse.

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