Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM) is a national effort to raise awareness and protect teens from violence. How can you make a difference? By encouraging your school, community-based organizations, tribal leaders, parents, and teens to join together to prevent teen dating violence– both at home and in our communities. Those of us in Native communities often hear jokes about “Indian lovin” as waking up with a hickey and a black eye—that’s not love, it’s dating violence. The NativeLove project gives us the opportunity to reframe what NativeLove really is, so we can change our thoughts and actions to restore how we love, honor, and treat each other, which is characterized by respect, kindness, and compassion.
The History of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month
In 2005, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act highlighted teenage dating violence and abuse. Congress declared the first week in February as “National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Week,” after national efforts called for the end of dating abuse. In 2010, Congress dedicated the entire month of February to teen dating violence awareness and prevention.
What is Teen Dating Violence?
Dating/ Relationship Violence occurs when one intimate or romantic partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through words and actions that are physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially abusive. Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. One in five tweens knows a victim of dating violence.
According to the National Institute of Justice’s 2016 report, more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women (84.3%) have experienced violence in their lifetime and more than 4 in 5 American Indian and Alaska Native men (81.6%) have experienced violence in their lifetime. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 40% of Native children experience two or more acts of violence by the age of 18, and 25% of Native children that are exposed to violence have PTSD at a higher rate than that found in US soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. This is an epidemic that has to end.
Because youth form the heart of our cultural survival as Native peoples, we at NativeLove believe that our Native youth have the power and energy to help create positive change in their communities to end this epidemic. Because youth form the heart of our cultural survival as Native peoples, we at NativeLove believe that our Native youth have the power and energy to help create positive change in their communities to end this epidemic. Please visit our 2018 TDVAM Resource Page for more information and tools to help you plan DVAM activities in your community.
About The NativeLove Project
Verizon has partnered with NIWRC to raise awareness and help end violence against Native youth by empowering them to redefine Native love. Our NativeLove project includes a youth video/photo challenge, posters, social media campaigns, FAQs, and teen resources and toolkits. These are offered to support and inform youth and educators about healthy relationship and to encourage dialogue in Native communities. http://nativelove.niwrc.org
About the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center
The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Inc. (NIWRC) is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to restoring the sovereignty of Native nations and safeguarding Native women and their children. The NIWRC supports culturally grounded, grassroots advocacy and provides national leadership to ending gender-based violence in indigenous communities through the development of educational materials and programs, direct technical assistance and the development of local and national policy that builds the capacity of Indigenous communities and strengthens the exercise of tribal sovereignty. www.niwrc.org