Cherokee Nation ONE FIRE offers help to teens in violent relationships

BY STACIE BOSTON
Multimedia Reporter
06/23/2020 01:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
In 2019, there were 18 reports of teen dating violence in ages 13-20 reported to Cherokee Nation ONE FIRE. Thanks to organizations such as ONE FIRE, teens can learn to identify when they are in such relationships and have a safe haven to seek help. CN ONE FIRE
TAHLEQUAH – Dating violence is not only restricted to adults and can be found in teen relationships. But thanks to organizations such as Cherokee Nation ONE FIRE, teens can learn to identify when they are in such relationships and have a safe haven to seek help.

ONE FIRE Admin Operations Manager Shawna Duch said teen dating violence can manifest itself as “actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, psychological and verbal harm by a partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or someone in or wanting to have a romantic relationship.”

“It also includes violence between two young people in a current or former relationship and can occur among heterosexual or same-gender couples,” she said. “It can also include using the internet, social networking sites, cell phones or text messaging to harass, pressure or victimize.”

In 2019, Duch said there were 18 reports of teen violence in ages 13-20 reported to ONE FIRE.

“Our data is collected just as a whole by numbers of clients within the Cherokee Nation Jurisdictional boundaries,” she said.

While there was not a lot of reported cases, Duch said she believes there are more victims who aren’t reporting. “They could be embarrassed and/or scared, thinking no one will listen or believe them.”

Duch said more teenage girls than boys report dating violence incidents to ONE FIRE.

“According to reports by www.youth.gov, boys rarely reported physical harm and were more likely to laugh off aggressive acts by their partner,” she said. “While girls reported serious harm and physical injury and tended to suffer long-term negative consequences such as suicide attempts, depression and substance use.”

When violence is encountered at an early age, Duch said it could trend into adulthood for victims and abusers.

“Breaking that cycle of violence is a huge goal of all domestic violence programs everywhere,” she said. “Teen dating violence is a serious problem that can have lasting harmful effects on victims, their family, friends and communities.”

If teens find themselves in situations of violence, Duch said the first thing they should do is “ensure safety and get help.”

“They should never isolate themselves from friends, neighbors or family,” she said. “They should try to consistently keep in touch and know that elders, counselors, teachers, coaches and friends are willing to help.”

Duch said if parents or guardians suspect their teens may be victims of abuse “they need to realize that they are the most important resource and advisor their teen has.”

“They should explain to their teen that he or she deserves a violence-free relationship and that abuse is never appropriate and never their fault,” she said.

If parents or guardians suspect their teens may be the abusers, Duch said it is important to let them know that “abuse and violence are not acceptable and that violence will not solve problems.”

Duch said teens typically confide in friends who could often be the first to learn of the abuse.

“To those friends who may know someone in an unhealthy relationship please know that next to listening is believing,” she said. “Believe in your friends’ stories and convince them that the abuse is not their fault.”

Duch said there are various avenues of help for teens in abusive relationships.

“Teens can always reach out to friends, family or the authorities for assistance,” she said. “Teens suffering in an abusive relationship can also explore other methods to empower themselves like joining a support group, taking the courage to call a crisis line or applying for a protection order.”

For help or information, call ONE FIRE at 918-772-4260 or 866-458-5399.

Signs That A Teen May Be In An Unhealthy Relationship

• Spending less time with family and friends;

• Excessive text messaging, phone calling, emailing or visiting with their boyfriend or girlfriend;

• Giving up things that used to be important to them;

• Declining grades or missing school;

• Being pressured by a girlfriend/boyfriend about what to do, where to go or what to wear;

• Worried about upsetting boyfriend/girlfriend;

• Apologizing or making excuses for boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s behavior; and

• They had an injury they try to cover up or cannot explain.

Places Teens Can Contact For Help

Cherokee Nation ONE FIRE

918-772-4260
1-866-458-5399

Love is Respect 

1-866-331-9474
www.loveisrespect.org

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
www.ndvh.org

Youth.Gov

1-877-231-7843
www.youth.gov
About the Author

stacie-boston@cherokee.org • xxx

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