According to the San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, “1 in 5 high school students have been physically abused or raped by a boyfriend … 8 percent say a boyfriend has forced sex … 40 percent say they know a friend who has been physically abused.”
According to the Galion Inquirer, “Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.” Yet they also report that, “Eighty-one-percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue….”
When a young girl is physically abused or raped there is an innocence lost that will never be recovered. The act will be a mind altering and life changing event. No support group, well intended friends, or loving family will ever be able to return to the young girl the sense of safety and security she once believed in.
Sadly, for many young girls, the horrific act perpetuated against them is only the beginning of their nightmarish journey.
If they don’t report the abuse, then they must carry the burden alone. For those young girls who do report the abuse, the reporting can have devastating results.
Cold instruments may be inserted into a young body seeking physical proof of abuse. Friends may abandon the young girls as if they were somehow now tainted with a disease that is contagious. The justice system may browbeat the young girls, and afterwards still fail them. Clergy may accuse them. Parents, in an effort to protect them, may inadvertently punish them.
The costs of the continued abuse of our young girls are high. There are medical costs, mental health costs, medication costs, legal costs; and sometimes, the ultimate cost, is that of a young life. When the devastation of abuse and rape is so great, when the abuse and rape is so prevalent, and the subsequent costs so high; why then are we so reluctant to talk truthfully about it?
One reason is that a very real and harsh truth exists; in our society as it is today, we cannot prevent all abuse and rapes of our young girls. This is a truth that very few want to accept or admit. But with abuse and rape so prevalent in our society we must talk truthfully about the issue. And to do that, we must be willing to face some harsh truths.
One harsh truth is that some young girls are not even aware they are being abused or that they have been raped. Another harsh truth; there is a double standard ingrained into our society that creates a hostile environment where the victims may be blamed for “causing” the abuse and rape. One very harsh truth that few want to admit is that the abuse and rape is perpetrated by a small number of repeat offenders that are not being held responsible for their actions.
Although it may not be possible to stop all the abuse and rapes, with truthful dialog we may be able to reduce the instances of abuse and rape. As part of that truthful dialog we must be willing to admit that the first line of defense in saving our young girls are the parents and the young girls themselves. And the means to that end is the education of parents and young girls.
If 81 percent of parents do not know there is a problem, and young girls do not know how to recognize what abuse is, then how can either group hope to protect the young girls from abuse and rape? So the first step in preventing abuse and rape of our young girls is to be educated on the subject.
On Oct. 8 at 7 p.m., Marion General Hospital will show a Netflix documentary called “Audrie and Daisy.” This documentary is a good place to start your education. Other sources of education inlude: Netflix documentaries “It Happened Here” and “The Hunting Ground.”
For information on setting boundaries, read “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.
For information on the dangers of societal and peer pressure read “Influence” by Robert B. Cialdini.