February is Dating Violence Awareness Month and we hope to educate our community on this very important issue. One in three young people will experience dating violence in their lifetime. Locally, the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center has been serving victims of domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and child abuse since 1978. Last year, HCWC served 2,054 victims of abuse (face-to-face) primarily from Hays and Caldwell counties.
February is Dating Violence Awareness Month, a national effort to raise awareness about the impacts of dating abuse and encourage communities to support teens and young adults in seeking healthy relationships. Though these conversations are important to have year-round, February gives us the opportunity to shine a light on dating abuse and inspire conversations about healthy relationships in order to stop violence before it starts.
An important part of growing up is learning how to have healthy relationships – with peers, with friends & family and with partners. While adults may not always see youth and young adult relationships as serious, they can still provide opportunities for youth to grow and learn things like: how they want to treat someone they care about and how they want to be treated; what their boundaries are and being able to recognize the boundaries of others; and learning that healthy relationships are based on equality, mutual respect, trust and healthy communication. Even young love should be healthy love.
As young people navigate relationships, adults can support them by creating a safe space for them to share their experiences and ask for support. Here are a few things to keep in mind when having conversations (source: love is respect.org):
• Be supportive and curious, not judgmental
• Validate and empathize with their experiences
• Be open to what they are telling you, even when it’s hard to hear
• If the relationship is unhealthy, focus on behaviors and not the person
• Offer resources for them to learn more
We are committed to providing free, safe, and confidential services to victims of dating violence. If you are experiencing dating violence, please call our HELPLine 24/7 at 512-396-4357. HCWC’s Counseling & Resource Center has a counselor specifically focused on Dating Violence and our Prevention Educators are available to give presentations and education about dating violence.