Teen Dating Abuse

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Q & A with Marjorie Gilberg, Executive Director of Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle is a national non-profit organization devoted to preventing dating abuse among teens and 20-somethings. Recently Break the Cycle joined forces with the National Dating Abuse Helpline to create loveisrespect.org. The two groups are working together online and off to provide resources about fostering healthy relationships to individuals, schools and community groups.

Be Smart. Be Well. sat down with Marjorie Gilberg to discuss teen dating abuse. Watch the video interview above or read the transcript below.

To learn more about Teen Dating Abuse, visit Be Smart. Be Well. Teen Dating Abuse.

BSBW: Why is teen dating abuse a serious problem?

Marjorie Gilberg.: Dating abuse affects one in three young people so inevitably that means somebody you know, whether it be your kid or your kid’s friend or the kid next door, these young people are being impacted by this issue on a massive scale; and when someone experiences abuse in their most intimate relationship they are significantly more likely to experience other major health problems, other risks and behaviors that are health related. So they may get involved with drugs and alcohol. They may engage in high-risk sexual behaviors and other things that could in long term affect their, their life-long health.

BSBW: What are the warning signs of dating abuse?

Marjorie Gilberg.: The texting, if there’s a lot of the W questions, the who, what, where, when, why. Maybe that’s not healthy behavior. That’s a red flag something could be going the wrong direction. You might have someone who is trying to keep you away from your friends, or your family, or, or things that you really enjoy like soccer or, basketball, or your service club, whatever you’re part of that they’re not wanting you to be part of anymore. Those are unhealthy behaviors that could lead to more serious behaviors down the road.

BSBW: What should teens do if they suspect dating abuse in their own relationship, or in someone else’s?

Marjorie Gilberg.: We know that young people go to their friends for help. That’s where they go first. There’s research to prove it. So one of the things that is critical that we feel is a really important part of the work we do is educating enough young people that when they see it between their friends, among their friends happening they know what’s coming down the road. They see the warning signs. They can start to intervene, speak about it, educate their peers, really get engaged on the issue before it gets to the point where someone finds themselves in a dangerous situation. And so yes, education is critical, but it’s not just for the people who may be experiencing abuse, it’s critical for the entire population of young people who may be able to help a friend who’s experiencing it too.

BSBW: What’s the most important thing for parents to know, if their teen is in an abusive relationship?

Marjorie Gilberg.: Don’t judge. Offer help. Let them know that you’re concerned for their safety. Let them know that you’re concerned for their health and well-being. Give them tangible examples of things that may be, you know, red flags without pointing fingers, calling names, or judging their partner because the partner already is setting-up a wall. Inevitably when those young people are able to get out of those relationships it’s because their family never stepped away. Their family just continued to be supportive, didn’t alienate them further, really just tried to be there and I think that’s the most critical thing families can do.

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In this Issue

Table of Contents

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  • Feature Article | Teen Dating Abuse

    Don’t be blind to the growing risk of teen dating violence. Learn to identify abuse and follow these tips for a teen dating abuse action plan.


  • Ask the Expert | Teen Dating Abuse

    Learn more about teen dating abuse and how you can help teens without pushing them away. With Executive Director of Break the Cycle, Marjorie Gilberg.


  • Life Stories Video | Teens Start Talking

    One video booth, a few questions, and 15 middle school, high school and college students. The result is an honest, courageous and painful look at the risks of being young and in love in today’s fast-paced technological world.


  • Challenge Yourself | Quick Quiz

    How much do you know about teen dating abuse? Take this quiz and separate fact from fiction.