YWCA promotes Dating Violence Prevention Month.
The YWCA of Central Virginia is commemorating February as Dating Violence Prevention Month and is offering education and support services to the community, according to a news release.
Dating violence includes any physical, verbal, emotional or sexual violence that takes place in relationships in which the individuals do not live together and/or have a common child.
Jenna Lodge, community outreach manager at the YWCA in Lynchburg, said Friday the organization wants to increase awareness about dating violence and encourage parents to talk to their children about it.
She said middle school-age children are prime targets for information about dating violence because they are developing social skills, experimenting with different relationships and feeling new pressures.
Dating violence prevalence increases in high school and college, she said.
According to the news release, 43 percent of dating college women report having experienced violent or abusive dating behaviors, and 22 percent report actual physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of physical violence.
Early warning signs that a relationship may eventually become abusive include the following: extreme jealousy, controlling behavior, quick involvement, unpredictable mood swings, alcohol and drug use, explosive anger, isolation from friends and family, use of force during an argument, hypersensitivity, blaming others for problems or feelings, verbal abuse, abuse of former partners and threats of violence.
Lodge said the death of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia student who died in 2010, has raised awareness about dating violence. Her former boyfriend, George Huguely, was charged with murdering her and is currently on trial.
Inquiries at the YWCA about dating violence have increased, including questions from parents about how to start a conversation about the issue with their children.
It’s important for parents to address the issue with their children, Lodge said, even if they have never experienced violence in the home.
The YWCA offers dating violence group sessions, one-on-one support, court accompaniment and community referrals to victims. A 24-hour hotline is available to anyone seeking more information. That number is 1-888-528-1041.
The YWCA also offers a free, interactive anti-violence theatrical workshop called “Meet D.A.V.E.”
Lodge said the workshop addresses dating violence, bullying, cyberbullying and stalking. The program includes skits and opportunities for the audience to ask the characters questions.
The YWCA offers the program to church groups, college groups and others. It serves Central Virginia, including Campbell County.