Durant High School students recognized Love in Not Abuse Day Thursday, Feb. 13 as part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
Students in DECA, a student marketing association, took charge of the events of the day which included handing out information on healthy and unhealthy relationships, inviting Durant’s mayor to speak, and having students sign a pledge to respect their partners.
Providing the information at the event were representatives from the Crisis Control Center in Durant and the Choctaw Nation.
The even took place at noon in the high school commons while students ate lunch. Mayor Jerry Tomlinson spoke to the student body and read a proclamation that stated the city’s support of Love is Not Abuse Day.
Tomlinson said he hopes seeing the city leaders support this cause will help students be aware of the issue themselves. He also said that while he is not a counselor, he is open to any teen that may need to talk.
During the proclamation reading, Tomlinson said one in three high school girls in the U.S. are victims of abuse in a relationship.
He also said only 33 percent of teens in abusive relationships tell anyone about the abuse. He said this abuse can be prevented with proper information and resources.
Choctaw Nation’s Project Safe Coordinator Nicole Schell-Loper said it is both girls and boys that are verbally and mentally abused in relationships.
She pointed out some forms of abuse that teens might overlook such as excessive texting and calling, a constant need to know where you are, making you feel guilty for spending time away from your partner or spending time with other people.
She said abusers will often try to isolate their partner from everyone but them and may try to change or control their partner.
The control may be in a passive-aggressive form such as asking “are you going to wear that?” or commenting on their partner’s weight or choices in a way that would make them doubt themselves.
DECA President and Senior at Durant High School Kaley Green said this issue is important because everyone can be affected not just those in the relationship.
She said she would encourage those who are in an unhealthy relationship to talk to someone they trust such as peers. Teens who feel they may be in an unhealthy relationship were also encouraged to call the 24-hour confidential hotline at (580) 924-3030 for help.
Students were also asked to show support for the cause on social media with the hash-tag NoExcuse4DatingAbuse.
- Jessica Breger can be reached at (580) 924-4388 ext. 116 or on Twitter @jbreger_news