Digital Exclusive: Local non-profit goes virtual on raising awareness about teen dating violence

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – The COVID-19 pandemic has made it a challenge to raise awareness about issues affecting the community, such as teen dating violence.

With this year’s theme being Know Your Worth, SafePlace Siouxland has taken a virtual approach to spread awareness on this important issue.

“We are using candy hearts posts, which are people holding up messages about their worth. Knowing their worth, talking about self-empowerment, self-worth, how to have a healthy relationship,” said Emily Fenske, SafePlace.

Emily Fenske, volunteer and resource coordinator at SafePlace, said people can also make pledges to stand up against this violence and what they would do to stop it.

Normally, the non-profit would go into the schools and work with student organizations, such as student council, about spreading awareness within their schools.

“One in three students will experience dating violence during their school years and that includes high school and college. Of those one in three, two-thirds of them will never report to a trusted adult,” said Fenske.

Ofc. Andrew Dutler with the Sioux City Police Department said they handle calls dealing with teen relationships where there are domestic issues going on.

The police department is helping fight teen dating violence by teaching people the warning signs of an abusive relationship.

“Significant others that are controlling, they’re alleging that you’re cheating even when you’re not, controlling your communication to other people outside of the relationship. Usually, when that control exists, you’re at least venturing into an abusive relationship and are quite possibly in an abusive relationship,” said Ofc. Andrew Dutler, Crime Prevention Officer.

Other signs of teen dating violence include having to check in with your partner constantly, stalking your social media, and physically, emotionally, and verbally hurting you.

Ofc. Dutler mentions that those who are often caught in the abuse or victim cycle sometimes have a hard time communicating with others that they do need help.

“A lot of that is centered around fear. Fear that it’s going to get worse if their significant other finds out that they were talking to the police. We do our best to advocate for those individuals, inform them of their victim’s rights. We read victims their rights, and they have many of them,” said Ofc. Dutler.

Sioux City Police often teaches people the process of getting protective orders and offers to transport them to a safe place where they can get the support they need.

For more information on teen dating violence, click here or go to SafePlace Siouxland’s Facebook page.

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