Indy advocates say parents need to watch for teen dating violence

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – While many teens receive flowers or chocolates on Valentine’s Day, others will unfortunately fall victim to dating violence. FOX59 sat down with a panel of advocates who say, parents need to know the warning signs.

Dating violence is starting as young as middle school. It can be difficult to spot, which is why the folks at the Beacon of Hope Crisis Center on the south side are wanting parents, caregivers, and friends to listen up.

This panel of women helped almost 300 clients in 2018 around central Indiana, ranging from 26 to as young as 13 years old.

“We need to be vigilant in helping our youth,” said Sandra Ziebold, the CEO of the Beacon of Hope Crisis Center.

Tiffany Wilson and Savannah Tipton are advocates. They say about 33 percent of young adults in America are victims of some sort of dating abuse.

“Young adults we often see more threats of suicide as a way to control someone in a relationship and that should absolutely be taken seriously,” said Tipton.

So far this year, these women have helped 24 victims of dating violence. It’s a trend that’s not slowing down or going away.

“They often say I didn’t have a clue any of this existed and I have friends who have come to me and talked to me about my boyfriend or girlfriend who are extremely jealous or very controlling, they monitor all of my social media outlets,” said Wilson.

Tipton says she notices that social media is playing more of a factor.

“One of my clients actually one of their first red flags was the first week they dated their partner hacked into their Facebook and they just kind of ignored that, you know – they were just curious. When that can be a sign early on, why isn’t that person trusting?”

It’s critical parents start asking questions. About 82 percent think they know the warning signs, when actually 58 percent of parents can’t correctly identify the signs.

“If they notice their child might come home upset or go in their bedroom and close the door,” Wilson added.

There’s more to look for than physical wounds. Look for changes in habits, constantly on edge and faking emotions.

“I think a lot of people think with time, things will get better,” said Tipton, “But with what we see with time things often escalate, continue getting worse, and that’s when we see escalations into physical abuse.”

Parents need to catch on early, because that’s the first step to ending it.

“We know it’s happening, there’s no doubt about that,” said Tipton.

The Beacon of Hope Crisis Center urges parents to reach out for help. Click here to get in touch with resources.

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