Each week AFL posts an Anglicans in Action video, which gives practical suggestions, resources, and ideas for life-ministry. This week’s focus is the Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. You can see all the Anglicans in Action videos on our YouTube Channel.

Hey, guys! I’m Sammie, creator of Abundant Life: You Were Made for More. I am passionate about relationships because I believe that they are God-given, and quite honestly, they have the potential to make or break us here on earth. If they are done right, we are given the opportunity to get a glimpse of Heaven here on earth – but if they are done wrong, they have the potential to be more damaging to our hearts than anything else.

An organization called Love is Respect does a lot of work related to dating violence amongst teenagers, and they’ve designated February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Abundant Life has decided to partner with this movement, so our action idea for the week revolves around this idea of what a healthy relationship looks like.

On top of working at Anglicans for Life, I work for a local pregnancy center and teach sexual education in high schools around the greater Pittsburgh area. We focus on teaching about healthy relationships in an effort to shift misconceptions about marriage that teenagers have, and the one thing I’ve learned is that if we aren’t efficiently communicating what healthy relationships look like, they genuinely don’t know because most of the relationships around them either aren’t relationships at all, and just hook-ups, or are so toxic in nature that it turns them away from the beauty of relationships in general.

Something I love about social media is it let’s us share a Word with people from all over the world! I encourage you to take some time today to create and share a photo or video of what you think a healthy relationship looks like, and then share it to your social media accounts. Be sure to tag @AbundantLifeYM on whatever platform your using, and to use the hashtag #loveisrespect.

It is through your story that someone could be saved the trauma and tragedy that an abusive relationship (whether that be physically, emotionally, spiritually, or verbally) brings.

Before you do that, here’s some facts that may help you understand why this topic is important to address:

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a partner in a single year.
  • One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.
  • Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.
  • Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence – almost triple the national average.
  • Because this isn’t talked about enough, college students are not equipped to deal with dating abuse – 57% say it is difficult to identify and 58% say that they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing dating violence.
  • Despite these statistics and many more than you can find on love is respect.org/resources/dating-violence-statistics, 81% of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, in the United States alone, 1/3 women and 1/6 men will experience some form of contact sexual violence in their lifetime (whether that be sexual assault or rape). The Radiance Foundation reports that 1% of all abortions (that’s 15,000) occur because of rape.

  1. If pregnancy occurs through rape or assault, abortion will not make the nightmare go away. In many cases, because of the trauma of the procedure, it can re-traumatize the rape victim and end up doing more damage. As hard as it can be to see in the middle of an impossibly painful situation, that is the beauty of our God – He can bring beauty from a violent act, because he specializes in bringing beauty from ashes. No matter how they are conceived, children are valuable and should not be killed for how they are conceived. 
  2. If you or someone you know experiences a rape, please, please, tell a trusted adult and go to the emergency room as soon as possible to have a rape kit performed. This is necessary to collect evidence in case prosecution is sought by the victim and to prevent further crimes from taking place.

Most importantly, please engage teenagers you love in conversations about healthy relationships.

Thanks for participating in our healthy relationship awareness challenge – I’m Sammie, and we’ll see you next time on Anglicans in Action!

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