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AG Kilmartin Tells RI Teens: It's Time to Talk About Dating Violence

February 4 is National "It's Time to Talk" Day

Statistics show that one in three teens and young adults will experience some form of domestic or dating abuse, and that three in four parents have never spoken about the issue with their child. With February being National Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is launching a social media campaign to tell teens: It's Time to Talk About Dating Violence.

On February 4, 2014, National It's Time to Talk Day, Attorney General Kilmartin will kick off a month long social media campaign to encourage teens and their parents to share information and tips on preventing dating violence, promoting the message that It's Time to Talk.

"No parent wants to think that their child could be a victim of dating violence or domestic abuse, but the reality is that it happens more often than most people realize. As we saw several years ago with the tragic case of Lindsay Ann Burke, who was brutally murdered by her ex-boyfriend, dating violence affects people of all backgrounds," said Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "Lindsay was the epitome of the girl next door – she was bright, compassionate and had a supportive family who loved her dearly. And yet, she became the victim of an abusive relationship that ultimately led to her death."

It's Time to Talk is a theme of the Love is Respect campaign, a collaboration between Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline that promotes teen dating violence awareness.

"Talking about abuse is the first step in preventing it, which is why I am bringing the issue into the spotlight for National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "All month I will share information so that teens and parents can talk about how they can prevent dating violence.

According to statistics reported by the Love Is Respect campaign, nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence. One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.

While abuse affects people of all ages, genders and demographics, studies show that young women are disproportionately affected by dating violence and sexual abuse. In fact, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence – almost triple the national average.

The affects of dating violence can be long-lasting: teens who suffer abuse are more likely to continue to be abused in their adult relationships and are at a higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and suicide – half of youth who have who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide, compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.

The best step a community can take is to address abuse amongst youth and teach teens the right thing to do. Patterns of dating violence often start early and carry through into adult relationships, and the severity of violence among dating partners has been shown to increase if the pattern has been established in adolescence.

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