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Did you know that teen dating violence is the number one health issue for young women aged 16-24? That 1 in 5 adolescents report being in an abusive relationship?

Teen dating violence is a nationwide problem and it crosses all lines: regional, socio-economic and racial. It is a problem that is occurs right here on the north shore. Adolescent dating violence (ADV) is defined as physical, sexual, or psychological/emotional violence within a dating relationship, and schools on the north shore are starting to pay attention to it.

Wendy Dickson, Director of Domestic Violence Services for the YWCA Evanston/North Shore knows that it is important to talk to students early about dating violence. “Dating abuse is beginning as early as sixth grade,” says Dickson. “We are seeing young people from all around our community who are experiencing some sort of dating violence.” Adolescent dating violence often starts with emotional abuse such as teasing or trying to control behavior but may escalate to physical or sexual abuse. Teens who are in abusive relationships in adolescence are more likely to be in violent relationships as adults.

The YWCA Evanston/North Shore is making a concerted effort to raise awareness and educate the community about domestic violence issues – with an emphasis on healthy relationships for teens. We are reaching out to educational institutions, faith-based organizations and health care agencies to raise awareness about the complexities and importance of the issue, offer resources that can help, and advocate for solutions to end relationship violence.

“Building Healthy Relationships,” our school-based curriculum which helps students recognize and avoid unhealthy and potentially abusive relationships, is taught by YWCA facilitators in School Districts 65 and 202 in Evanston, and Niles District 219. We also work with teens at the Youth Job Center, and have embarked on a partnership with YOU to involve boys and young men in community outreach around issues of teen dating abuse. Additonally, the YWCA consults with colleges and universities, including Loyola and Northwestern, on campus dating violence, providing education, counseling and support groups for both students and staff.

If you are interested in having a member of our staff visit your organization, contact Wendy Dickson, YWCA Director of Domestic Violence Services, at 847-864-8445, ext. 112.

Learn more at www.ywca.org/evanston.