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WUHS spread awareness about teen dating violence in February

WUHS spread awareness about teen dating violence in February

By Nancy Vigran Reporter for the Sun-Gazette

WOODLAKE – February is a month for romance and love with Valentine’s Day falling mid-month. But February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

On Tuesday, Feb. 12, leaders of the Family Services’ My Strength Club and My Voice Club at Woodlake Union High School got together wearing orange for awareness and set up a booth to help educate their peers about teen dating violence.

“This is a real problem,” said sophomore Krystal Gomez.

She was excited to participate, she said, and shared steps for preventing and getting out of an abusive relationship.

Senior Raul Reynoso shared some of the signs of someone being too controlling, and of posting about a private relationship on social media. “People need to talk about it,” he said, and become more aware.

In any relationship, too, talking is important, he added, sharing what each other wants from that relationship. Lupita Jimenez, also a senior, became involved with the group last year. Abuse doesn’t have to go as far as rape, nor does it have to be physical at all, she explained.

Knowing the warning signs is key to prevention, she said, such as someone “being overly controlling, acting weird, and making you feel uncomfortable.”

Finding themselves in that type of situation, one should “try to leave and talk with someone else about how it made you feel,” she said.

Senior Arthur Valero got involved with the group through some of his friends. “I got really interested in it as way to help other people,” he said. “If I were in a situation like that, I’d get out of it. It’s knowing when to leave.”

The best thing someone else can do for a person who has been in an abusive relationship, is to comfort them and listen, he added.

If physical abuse is involved, Raul said, he would share a hotline number and tell the person to call for further help and advice. National statistics show that one in three teenagers either have been abused or know someone that has, said Edwin Gomez, a prevention supervisor with Family Services of Tulare County who works with the students in Woodlake.

“When we ask [if a teen has been or knows someone who has been abused], most of the time the answer is ‘yes,’” he said.

Gomez also shared that abuse doesn’t have to be physical. Emotional abuse can be just as or even more damaging and is very hard on self-esteem.

“You don’t need to have bruises to be abused,” he said.

Some people will say that emotional abuse isn’t really abuse, but it is very real, he added.

According to an article written by Amy Gonzalez on the Family Services web site:

Dating abuse is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to gain power and control over a dating partner. It is important to acknowledge that it can happen to anyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic standing, ethnicity, religion or culture. Over half of women and men who have experienced physical or sexual abuse from a dating partner, first experienced abuse between the ages of 11 to 24.

If a student is having a problem, they are encouraged to seek the help of a responsible adult on campus such as a teacher, counselor, or even the principal.

The Family Services hotline abuse number is 559-732-5941. They can also be reached by texting “loveis” to 22522. When facing possible immediate danger, one should call “911.”

For more information, visit the Family Services web site at https://fstc.net/

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