MILWAUKEE, WI - A program 13 years in the making —End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin is rolling out a campaign helping teens define the characteristics of healthy dating even before the first date.
In fact, 1 in 5 teens experience dating violence right here in the state — that’s the same as saying when looking at an average high school classroom of 20 students four of them could be victims. Simone Lewis-Turner, a survivor of dating abuse, knows this first hand.
“I could remember at times I would cry about it because I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t have no one to turn to, I was scared to tell my mom," Lewis-Turner said.
Lewis-Turner now works for End Abuse as a teen advocate for the new Dare2Know outreach program. The campaign just launched in the Milwaukee area last month, and Lewis-Turner said the need for it has never been greater.
“A lot of times friends of mine get taken advantage of because we don’t quite know what we like yet or we don’t know who we are yet so we just try to explore but go about it the wrong way,” Lewis-Turner said.
Dating abuse isn’t just physical violence, and it’s more than name calling face to face. 1 in 4 teens in relationships said they’ve been harassed or put down by their partner through mobile devices —usually in a text. Patti Seger, Executive Director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin said that’s why it’s important to define characteristics of a healthy relationship at a young age.
“Violence doesn’t start magically at age 18, it starts in those early relationships,” Patti Seger said.
According to Seger those early relationships form the foundation of adult relationships and Lewis Turner said she’ll continue working as an advocate to drive that message home.