Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, encouraging Michigan resident to educate themselves, their families and their communities about the dangers of abuse within relationships.
“Victims of dating violence need to know that they’re not alone, that they are believed and that there are resources available to help them,” Whitmer said in a statement. “The Division of Victim Services within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is among the important advocates for victims.”
Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by a romantic partner, Whitmer’s office said. Only 33 percent of these victims ever reveal the abuse.
Whitmer’s office said domestic abuse can happen beyond high school as well, with 43 percent of college women and 28 percent of college men reporting abusive behaviors within a romantic relationship.
Abusers intentionally use physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and economic coercion to control their partners.
“We can all play a role in ending teen dating violence by educating ourselves, empowering young people to develop healthy relationships and developing better supportive services,” said Debi Cain, executive director of the MDHHS Division of Victim Services, in a statement. “The MDHHS Division of Victim Services is committed to advancing this critical work by creating more and better dating violence resources for young people while connecting victims with the information and support they may need after experiencing abuse.”
Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of economic or social status.
“As a mom of two teenage girls, nothing is more important to me than their safety,” Whitmer said. “Raising awareness about teen dating violence will help my girls and young Michiganders everywhere.”
Read Whitmer’s proclamation here.
If you or someone you know is an abusive relationship, call the Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with Battleground State News and The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]