FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Fort Jackson is working to stay a step ahead of teen dating violence.

Last week, the post's Family Advocacy Program conducted training for Child, Youth and School Services managers, who will pass this training along to teens.

"February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month," said Kamala Henley, a victim advocate for Fort Jackson's Family Advocacy Program. "Back in November, I had the idea of going to the Youth Center and presenting information to teens, specifically what teen dating violence is. A lot of times they don't even know they're in an abusive relationship."

"The goal is awareness," said Irma Rodriguez, assistant director and training program specialist for the CYSS Middle School & Teen Program. "(We want to raise) awareness that domestic violence usually starts at an early age. We're trying to do everything we can to prevent kids from getting involved in domestic violence."

Teens and young adults can experience the same types of abuse in relationships as adults. This can include:

Physical abuse: Any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon.

Verbal or emotional abuse: Non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking.

Sexual abuse: Any action that affects a person's ability to control his or her sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion or restricting access to birth control.

Digital abuse: Use of technologies and/or social media networking to intimidate, harass or threaten a current or former dating partner. This could include demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyber bullying, sexting, excessive or threatening texts or stalking on Facebook or other social media sites.

"Last week's training made us realize that it's not only females that are being violated, but males, as well," Rodriguez said.

The sooner people are educated on appropriate, healthy relationships, the less likely it is they will become involved in abusive relationships as adults, Henley said.

Training materials were pulled from a variety of sources, ranging from the Centers for Disease Control to loveisrespect.org, a website created by Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline.

"It's a matter of pulling that stuff together in a comprehensive manner to present it to the people working with youth at the Youth Center," Henley said. "And also to present it to youth in a manner they can understand.

"Our objective was to help them recognize what dating abuse is, and ways they can help kids if they find they are in an abusive relationship," she said. "And we gave them ways they can help the kids if they find they're in an abusive relationship, and resources they can use to get them help."

Henley said that an overabundance of information is available to people, and it can be overwhelming. She said plans call for trainers to return to CYSS to speak directly to children.

"There's so much information," she said. "You want to give it all to them, but you don't have time for that. But, if they need us to (provide training) in March or April, we'll be ready."

Page last updated Fri March 1st, 2013 at 10:10