OVC Provider Forum Transcript

Outreach and Response to Teen Victims of Dating Violence
Michelle Harkey, Keisha Varnell  -  2016/2/10
https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
Please give some examples of Victims telling, without telling, of the abuse experiences they have lived through
 
1.  Dee
 Sudden changes in demeanor, eating or cleanliness habits, and changes in attitude or perception of life or the meaning of their existence. Sometimes the teen may no longer find pleasure in activities they used to enjoy. High anxiety and difficulty concentrating are also warning signs. I think it may be difficult for teens to verbally express that they are being abused or may downplay how bad the abuse is, so it's important to pay close attention to their habits and behaviors.
 
2.  medlinsm
 Everyday actions is one sign that sticks out the most in my mind. The way they dress, act, distance themselves, and even the way they communicate can all change. The communication someone once had with their teens can change from being nice conversations that last forever to short one worded conversations.
 
3.  K. Varnell
 Victims of dating violence present non-verbal clues such as the way they dress may change, eating habits, their demeanor in the presence of the abuser. Teens may become more defiant and secretive to their parent(s). These are a few obvious clues. Other subtle clues are isolation from good friends, grades dropping, and loss of interest in anything other than the current relationship.
 
4.  AcBatts
 I feel like their actions, within everyday life, as in the way that they carry themselves and the way that they act around other individuals could tell someone what they have been through. For women, distance from all men could be a distinguishing factor of them being abused by men, for example.
 
5.  Michelle Harkey
 One way a teen victim may disclose information about abuse indirectly can be by a change in routines, behavior, and school performance after the start of a dating relationship. These all can be indirect notifications of possible issues with a dating relatoinship.
 
 
Do you have suggestions on engaging bystanders (friends, classmates, etc.)?
 
1.  K. Varnell
 The DateSafe Project is an excellent resource for proactive by-stander intervention strategies.
 
2.  K. Varnell
 It is critical to teach bystanders to intervene to stop abuse in ways that are safe and effective. Peer educators may also be valuable resources for the prevention of teen dating violence since adolescents generally confide more in peers than in adults. I've found allowing teens to start peer groups, buddy bonds, My fav 5 helps them to accept responsibility of being by-standers because they take ownership in those type of programs. allow them (with supervision of course) to take the lead
 
3.  Michelle Harkey
 Great question Laurie, Engaging bystanders has always been a challenge. In my experience, allowing bystanders to report anonymous has helped. Placing drop boxes, establishing a no questions asked program or even the ability to text information to a safe adult can help with bystanders reporting issues. However, reporting during an assault is more difficult. The safety of the reporter, peers and location all play a factor in the likelihood of a bystander helping a victim during an assault. I would focus on those areas when building a program. Thanks for your question.
 
4.  Dee
 Teachers, parents, friends' parents and any other individual who works with the teenager should be on alert for warning signs that may indicate they are a victim of dating violence. Ask open-ended questions or lend a listening ear, and take their concerns seriously. Educate adults on teen dating violence with the resources available in their communities.
 
 
Are apps effective engagement tools? There are a number of them out there, but was interested in any info on how often they are used.
 
1.  Michelle Harkey
 You are correct. There are tons of apps available for use by teens. With a majority of teens with cell phones and tablets, the scale of use is hard to determine. However, the ability to gain information 24/7, anonymously, can help teens get connected to resources and information. However, the effectiveness of these apps are only as good as the resources they provide. I recommend reviewing and testing apps before recommending them as an option for teens to ensure a quality product.
 
2.  K. Varnell
 If there is an app with the capability of measuring outcomes it would be great. We are in the age of technology. If an app will be used as a tool, I would encourage the facilitator to make sure to have a controlled group where pre/post test are conducted.
 
 
How do we get teens to disclose to adults when they are being mistreated and abused?
 
1.  Michelle Harkey
 One way to help a teen disclose abuse to adults is to create a safe and open line of communication with the teen. Checking in with teens on bad days as well as good will help build a trusting relationship. This is key to helping a teen disclose abusive information. Thank you for your question.
 
2.  K. Varnell
 Make sure there are available resources for teens. Most importantly, teens have to trust the adult and believe the adult can relate to their issue. We have to meet the teens were they are- on their playing field in order for them to trust us enough to disclose. Without crossing boundaries, a good way to do this is with personal experience, facts, and a non-judgmental approach.
 
 
We are a DV and SA agency who is having difficulty getting teens to come for counseling in particular groups. Any ideas of how to engage them, agencies to reach out to or barriers/blocks that we could address?
 
1.  Michelle Harkey
 Location and activities are key when working with the younger age group. Being able to relate to their interest is helpful in engaging teenagers. Using social media as a tool of engagement has also proven to be successful in the participation of support groups. Thanks for the question.
 
2.  K. Varnell
 Again, it's important to meet teens where they are. Try social media. Try facilitating groups without labels, i.e. counseling. Try incorporating trends they are familiar with. A good way to encourage interaction is to allow them to set the tone of the meeting.
 
 
What is the best way to respond when the victim denies a sexual assault weeks after she has disclosed that it happened? In this case she says she disclosed b/c the boyfriend broke up with her and denied it after they got back together. The victim was 13 and boyfriend was 17.
 
1.  K. Varnell
 I do understand. We can not force a victim to tell or disclose. If the victim is 13, however, we must report. We have to be supportive of the victim as well as encouraging. harm can come to the case as well as investigation if we appear coercive or leading. We have to be careful when it becomes a criminal matter.
 
2.  Marina Rogers
 In the state of Georgia that is a sexual assault, a 13 year old can not consent, so there is no recanting. I have found it helpful to discuss consent and sex being used as a weapon when teaching teens about preventing dating violence.
 
3.  K. Varnell
 If a victim recants, it's best practice to allow her the option but also inform her of resources available. In a case where the law may have been broken, (statutory rape)it's important to follow the law regarding mandated reporting. The matter of accountability should be addressed with the 13 year old regarding false reporting and the consequences of those actions.
 
 
Is encouraging teens to be in healthy relationships an effective way to address teen dating violence. Has anyone found it to be helpful?
 
1.  Jennifer Taylor
 I think what is more effective in addressing teen dating violence is for teens to recognize how they want to be treated in a relationship. I think sometimes when we say 'healthy', to a teen it means 'perfect'. We as adults know that relationships aren't perfect; however, teens need to understand that there are respectful ways to resolve conflict in relationships that can make a healthy relationship.
 
2.  Dee
 It is important to continually encourage and display to teens what a healthy relationship looks like, but also display to them the warning signs of what an unhealthy relationship looks like so they can compare good from bad.
 
3.  dra
 We are always discussing healthy relationships with the teens. So many teens in our service area are exposed to unhealthy relationships at home that they are unable to identify what an appropriate healthy relationship is supposed to look like so even when we feel like we go over it session after session it is crucial for them to understand and value the qualities of a healthy relationship.
 
4.  AcBatts
 That seems to be a good way of pushing kids closer to safer relationships, but sometimes they need the resources to get IN those relationships. Some kids don't know what a healthy relationship looks like or how to start one, so giving them resources in how to find one and how to make them work could also be a good technique.
 
5.  Michelle Harkey
 It is a very helpful technique; however, ensuring that skills and resources are available for teens who are not in a healthy relationship should compliment any healthy relationship based curriculum.
 
6.  K. Varnell
 That is the 1st step in prevention. Encouraging healthy relationships with friends, partners, family, and peers. It is also important to develop coping and communication skills early. Another primary prevention element is self love. It's important teens learn self love and self respect in order to give that love and respect and set healthy boundaries in their relationships.
 
7.  medlinsm
 I believe it is a good thing to encourage teens to be in a healthy relationship becuase they will know and understand what a real relationship is suppose to be like. No relationship should be abusive.
 
 
What factors would compell a teen to stay in an abusive relationship when they are going to have support from their family and friends to get out of it.
 
1.  Jennifer Taylor
 We cannot deny the fact that media plays a role in why teens stay in abusive relationships. Media does an excellent job at glorifying abusive relationships (emotional and verbal). Teens begin to think that this is the way a relationship is supposed to be: the cycle of violence. He (or she) abuses, apologizes, uses manipulation by giving a gift... and the cycle repeats itself. One of the main tactics that abusers use to gain power and control over a dating partner is to isolate them from their family and friends. They will do anything to severe those important relationships including making them feel guilty for wanting to spend time with family and friends. Continue to support the one you love no matter how frustrating it may feel to see them stay in an abusive relationship.
 
2.  Michelle Harkey
 The control of the abuser on the victim can play a large role in the victim's ability to leave. Some reasons a teen may stay in an abusive relationship may be that he/she is scared to leave, the abuser has threatened suicide had has made the victim feel guilty, the victim may feel he/she can change the abuser, or the victim feels that the actually love the abuser. There are many reasons why a victim may stay. It is important that the victim's support system makes he/she aware that they are loved and supported when they make the choice to leave.
 
3.  K. Varnell
 The dynamics of dating violence are similar to DV. Some contributing factors include: fear, love, low self-esteem, not aware the relationship is volatile or dangerous. Teens have a difficult time differentiating love from abuse in some cases. they feel as if some things we deem unhealthy and inappropriate is done "out of love". They feel shame and/or guilt. Often times, the emotional attachment out weighs best interest. We have to remain supportive and vigilant in our efforts to build them up to a level they feel the behavior is unacceptable.
 
 
What would you say as to why young people get involved in relationships that could lead to violence? If those do lead to violence, why would you say that they stay in the relationship for so long without telling someone?
 
1.  K. Varnell
 A lot of them stay involved for some of those same reasons. When talking about prevention and/or intervention, we must acknowledge the need to develop communication skills, self respect techniques and self love conditioning. these factors play a major role in what will be acceptable behavior in an unhealthy relationship.
 
2.  K. Varnell
 Because they do not know what dating violence is. They do not understand the red flags. Other factors include:Poor communication/social skills •Inability to manage anger •Belief in traditional gender roles •Association with friends who perpetrate dating violence •Being a witness to family violence •Exposure to community violence •Acceptance of the use of dating violence •Use of alcohol and/or drugs Research has also shown that low self-esteem correlates with dating violence perpetration for boys and with dating violence victimization for girls
 
3.  Dee
 Teenagers are not fully developed cognitively, and may not recognize warning signs of abuse in individuals they are interested in dating. In addition to this is the desire for acceptance. A teen in an abusive relationship may feel like revealing that they are being abused may isolate them from their peers. The dating partner may also be popular or well-accepted and liked by the student population and the abused teen may feel like no one would believe them if they revealed the abuse. This can also prolong abusive relationships. For teens and young adults, fitting in and being socially accepted is very important, so ignoring or downplaying the threats of violence or coercion in exchange for social acceptance may cause the teen to weigh the violence as a small cost for a larger benefit.
 
4.  Michelle Harkey
 There are a variety of reasons why a young person may get involved in a abusive relationship. Some possible reasons may be that the young person may have come from a family that had violence present, poor self-esteem, lack of (unhealthy) social/peer relationships or fear. These also can be reasons why they stay in those relationships. Prevention is the key when working with young people to avoid involvement in abusive relationships. Great question.
 
 
Our nonprofit organization has been working to prevent teen dating violence through the use of video games designed specifically for that purpose. We are a very small organization and have had a lot of difficulty finding others using this approach - or much research in this area. The only info that we've found is in the UK (CAVA) who did a study a few years ago. Are you aware of anybody else using video games to prevent teen dating violence?
 
1.  K. Varnell
 Thanks for the information. I will look into this.
 
2.  Michelle Harkey
 Hi Drew, Thanks again. I will check out these sites today. Thank you so much for sharing and I look forward to working together on this.
 
3.  Drew Crecente
 Please feel free to look at our games - they are all free - and can be played in a browser or downloaded to smartphones and tablets. I would love any feedback and collaboration opportunities! Our organization is here: http://JenniferAnn.org Our game portal is here: https://JAGga.me
 
4.  Michelle Harkey
 Hi Drew, This is an awesome idea. Our agency has looked into this concept. You are correct, there is a limited amount of evidence based research on the effectiveness in this area. That does not mean it is not a great approach; just a new one. With the increase in the use of social media and video games; the ability to reach many teens with this technique is great. I believe in the future more organizations will see this technique as an option. Participating in national conferences can also be a good way to introduce this technique to a greater population and increase research probability in this area.
 
5.  K. Varnell
 I am not aware of video games, however, there are several interactive computer modules that are popular in dating violence awareness prevention and education.
 
 
What are the best resources to use in addressing Teen Dating Violence in a group discussion? Classroom setting?
 
1.  Michelle Harkey
 I would agree with all of the above mentioned resources; however, it is also important to use what you know about your groups to enhance these curriculums to fit the groups you work with. Keeping the teens engaged and relating to the curriculum is key to making sure the information is used.
 
2.  Marina Rogers
 Safe Dates is the curriculum our agency has used for three years, we are completing a 2 week program with a high school now with 250 students. It is evidence based as well.
 
3.  K. Varnell
 thesafespace.org — Break the Cycle created thesafespace.org, which provides basic facts about teen dating violence, including information about the legal rights of victims. The website also has a series of quizzes to help teens evaluate the health and safety of their dating relationships. To visit the website, go to: www.thesafespace.org
 
4.  K. Varnell
 Dating Matters: Understanding Teen Dating Violence Prevention www.vetoviolence.org/datingmatters http://www.thatsnotcool.com http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/ DatingMatters_flyer.pdf.
 
 
If you have a school that recommends parental approval for participation in these programs what is the best way for you to sell your program so parents are accepting of the information?
 
1.  Jennifer Taylor
 I agree; approach the discussion with parents as a healthy relationship discussion. Many parents to pre-teens and teens don't want to believe that their child might be interested in dating and therefore are apprehensive to including this as part of a discussion with their teen. Another way I have approached this is to let parents know that they are gaining valuable resources that might help their child's friend. Research has shown that teens are more than likely to go to other teens about TDV and its important for teens to know the resources and information on how they can best support their friend.
 
2.  Michelle Harkey
 Great question. Providing parents with evidence based material and information has proven to be very successful. Focusing on the healthy aspects of teens participating in the program can also educate parents on the benefits of their child attending. Allowing parents to have a hands on role in educating their child about dating violence by involving them in focus groups and curriculum reviews can help get support from parents.
 
3.  K. Varnell
 Approach the subject from a "healthy relationship" standpoint, inclusive of peer groups, bullying, and safe dating as oppose to just dating relationships. Include statistics about teed dating violence and be honest with parents about the intentions to be proactive instead of reactive.
 
 
How can we talk to teenagers about sexting in a way that isn't fear or shame based? It's important of course to talk about the risks--especially in context of an abusive relationship--but it is also a form of expression for many young people. Thanks!
 
1.  K. Varnell
 Entry 3: “We’ll get through this.” “There are some things you obviously don’t realize yet.” “It seems that you may not be quite ready for all this freedom.” “There are some things you need to learn about yourself and other people.” Disclose the dangers of sexting and the consequences of messages and pictures going on the WORLD WIDE WEB
 
2.  K. Varnell
 Entry 2:It can be a way to demonstrate their courage (on a dare) or confidence (when challenged). It is a way for teens to imitate the “sexy” men and women portrayed in the media and especially in pornography. The approach should be stern and direct but not combative: Use words like problem, mistake, bad judgment, poor decision, temporarily lost your mind, not thinking with your brain; that kind of thing. Avoid absolutes (e.g., always, never, completely, totally, impossible) and extremes (e.g., catastrophe, disaster, destroyed, ruined, horrifying, utter shame and humiliation, etc.). Talk in a way that suggests this isn’t the end of the world.
 
3.  K. Varnell
 entry 1: Sexting among teens seems to be about a number of things. It is way to do something that is considered “bad” or rebellious. It is a way to flirt. Sexting allows kids to expose the sexual part of themselves to another person without all the embarrassment of having that person right in front of them. It is a way for teens to give something personal to their beloved (or belusted). Sexting provides a way for teens to be raunchy and funny (and to indirectly get some validation of their desirability to others).
 
4.  Michelle Harkey
 Great question. I agree, teaching about the risks is important. However, using fear or shame based approached may backfire. In my experience teaching young people to respect themselves and increase self-worth, and esteem helps in making healthier (smarter) choices. Showing them they are worth more than that text is the key to getting them to think outside of what peers or the media tells them. Thanks for your question.
 
5.  Drew Crecente
 My organization just covered this yesterday in a news interview. Rather than focus on any "moral" aspect we instead focus on the practical aspect: if you give a picture to a boyfriend/girlfriend do so with the knowledge that it might be sent to friends and family. The reason for this is that if the relationship starts to go bad then that picture is a great blackmail tool; by deciding in advance that you are okay with friends / family seeing the picture you have removed the coercive effect and cannot be blackmailed.
 
 
In your experiences, does gender, race, age or economic status make a difference in who is more likely to become a victim of dating violence? Which groups are more likely to be victimized?
 
1.  Michelle Harkey
 There really is no "typical victim"; however. there are communities that have higher probability of abusive relationships. individual who have a history of violence. cycle of abuse, and lack of support can all increase the likelihood of being in an abusive relationship. Good question.
 
2.  K. Varnell
 Dating violence has no preference. It is about power and control. It is also about manipulation. I've seen it across all socio-economic, race, and gender lines. The risk may be greater depending on certain factors but definitely not exclusive of the crime.
 
Return to Discussion