February is often associated with love as Valentine's Day makes its way into the new year at mid-month. The period also marks Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month as both federal and state officials work to spread the word of safety, boundary and respect among often unsuspecting masses.
According to the Utah Domestic Violence Council (UDVC), unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. Dating violence often starts with teasing and name calling, as these behaviors are often thought to be a "normal" part of the relationship. These behaviors can be dangerous however, as they often set the stage for more serious violence.
"We often warn girls of overprotective behavior," said Child and Family Services official Cassie Bailey. "It seems nice when your boyfriend or girlfriend walks you to every class and drives you everywhere. But at times these behaviors are the precursor to deliberate isolation and stalking."
Bailey and others from the Carbon County Family and Child Services Office will be presenting to Pinnacle High Students in the coming month concerning many of the dangers associated with Teen Dating Violence and Domestic Violence in general.
"We are going to go over what dating violence is and what a healthy relationship is," she continued. "We want to let these kids know that it's okay to have boundaries and how to define them."
Teen Dating Violence is defined by the Center for Disease Control as the physical, sexual or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship.
According to the CDC, it can occur in person or electronically and may occur between a current or former dating partner. Adolescents and adults are often unaware that teens experience these problems. However, in a nationwide survey, 9.4 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months prior to the survey.
The CDC continues to report that about one in five women and nearly one in seven men who ever experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner, first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age.
This early abuse can be especially damaging as it effects a person during a period of intense development and influence. The CDC reports that victims of domestic violence are more likely to do poorly in school and report binge drinking, suicide attempts and physical fighting.
"In the last year there has been several local deaths and suicides associated with relationship violence," said Bailey. "There is help available in our area and we are working to make sure everyone knows where to find it."
According to Bailey, those needing service in the Price area can call Victim Advocate Debbie Worley at the Price City Police. In Carbon and Emery counties, Victim Advocate Denna Fausett can be reached by calling either county sheriff's office. Services can also be coordinated through the Colleen Quigley Crisis Center at 636-2375.
According to all resources available, abuse can start almost immediately in a relationships but can also be masked for some time. While there are many warning signs of abuse, the UDVC outlined ten common abusive behaviors:
Checking your cell phone or email without permission
Constantly putting you down
Extreme jealousy or insecurity
Isolating you from family or friends
Making false accusations
Physically hurting you in any way
Telling a person what to do
While anyone of these behaviors does not mean that abuse will follow they are the most common precursors to larger problems.
Additional information concerning all types of domestic violence can be found online at www.udvc.org.