Abuse comes in many forms, even digital

By Ashley Wilson
Special to The PREVIEW
More and more information is coming out about the prevalence of media and use of electronics among kids and teens. While digital media has given us more ways to connect across the globe and have information at our fingertips, there is also a large downside.
According to the Urban Institutes study on digital abuse among teens:
• 25 percent of dating teens report they’ve been digitally victimized by their partners. Only 9 percent seek help, and rarely from parents or teachers.
• 84 percent of digital abuse victims said they were also psychologically abused.
• 52 percent of digital abuse victims said they were also physically abused.
• 33 percent of digital abuse victims said they were also sexually coerced.
• One in six youth report being the victims of cyberbullying, which is abuse and harassment from someone other than a romantic partner.
• 90 percent of cyberbullying victims said they were also psychologically abused.
• Two-thirds to three-quarters of cyberbullying victims said they were also physically abused.
• Victims of cyberbullying were almost three times as likely to also experience digital dating abuse or harassment.
According to the Domestic Violence Awareness Project, approximately 1.5 million high school students experience physical abuse from a dating partner every year.
These numbers are alarming and adults in our community can make a difference. If you are a parent, make sure to talk to your teen, not only about how to be safe online, but also what healthy relationships are or are not. Only 9 percent of dating teens who have been digitally victimized seek help. So, the conversation needs to happen with every teen so that those who are in this situation know they can ask for help.
If you don’t have children in this community you can still make a difference by talking about this problem with young people you know and being a good example of a healthy, respectful relationship. We can change how youth accept teen dating violence.
Love is respect. You do not physically hurt someone you respect, you do not psychologically hurt someone your respect, you do not coerce someone you respect and you do not bully someone you respect.
Rise Above Violence would like to join you and the community in being part of this change for Pagosa. Rise Above Violence youth prevention program focuses on respect, healthy relationships and understanding consent. These are important conversations to have with the young people in our community so that we can change the conversation. Rise would love to focus less on crisis response and more on prevention and promotion of healthy relationship values. Raise your voice in our community around these issues. Silence is what perpetuates the problem.
Rise Above Violence is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. They service victims and survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and other violent crimes in Archuelta County. For 24/7 crisis support, please call 264-9075 to talk with an advocate, or the 24-hour teen text support line is 747-0221.

This story was posted on February 27, 2019.