July 25, 2019

YWCA Spokane Youth Services Help Teens Prevent Intimate Partner Violence

YWCA Spokane’s Prevention Team is dedicated to ending Intimate Partner Domestic Violence before it ever begins. As a part of our prevention work, YWCA Spokane reaches out to young women and young men in the community with the goal to promote and educate about healthy relationships and to spread awareness about our available services. The Prevention Team meets with nearly 400 teens every year through classes, one-on-one work, or group projects to focus on what healthy relationships look like before teens ever experience an unhealthy one.

However, not all teens can be reached before they experience Intimate Partner Violence, and some youth witness Intimate Partner Violence between parents as they grow up. YWCA Spokane couples Youth Prevention work with Youth Trauma Support Services for teens experiencing Intimate Partner Violence in their relationship, or teens who have or who are witnessing Intimate Partner Violence between their parents. Between these two programs, YWCA Spokane responds to and prevents Intimate Partner Violence to ensure generations to come only know healthy relationships.

YWCA Spokane’s Youth Services are certainly put to the task. In Spokane County, one in four teens report experiencing bullying and one in ten teens report experiencing dating abuse. These reported numbers do not give the full insight for how many teens in Spokane are experiencing bullying and dating abuse; it is estimated that more teens are experiencing these issues, but simply do not report them

intimate partner violence

An often overlooked issue is youth experiencing intimate partner abuse. This involves being physically hurt or feeling unsafe, threatened or controlled by a dating partner. According to the Women Helping Women Fund’s report, youth reports of dating partner abuse have been steadily declining in Spokane County, falling from 16% in 2008 to 9.4% in 2016. Despite these falling numbers, dating violence among teens is still highly prevalent. One in ten teens overall report dating abuse, but one in five teens from low-income households report dating abuse. These numbers are staggering and even more disturbing is the fact that only 33% of teens tell anyone about the abuse. In reality, it is estimated that one in three high school students experience either physical or sexual violence, or both, that is perpetrated by someone they are dating or going out with.

There are certain inequities among dating abuse for teens regarding their population. As with bullying, females were more likely to report dating partner abuse than males. American Indian/Alaska Native youth were significantly more likely to report dating partner abuse, while African American youth were much less likely to report it.

Read more from the Women Helping Women Fund’s report.

teens’ response

February in Spokane, and around the nation, is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Our Prevention Team called out for stories, testimonies, and/or opinions from teens in Spokane, asking them for their thoughts on teen dating violence and healthy relationships. The consensus among teens who wrote in is that teens want to learn about healthy relationships. They want to talk about these issues, and end the silence surrounding teen dating violence. Here are just a few testimonies from teens who wrote to our Prevention Team:

“It’s important to talk about Teen Dating Violence because it makes teenagers feel like they can be open with each other and adults in their lives. Teens often feel like they can’t talk about their situation out of fear of being judged and put down about their feelings and experiences. Talking about dating violence with your kids/students will empower them to speak out when they are experiencing dating violence or when someone around them is experiencing dating violence. Adults should know that we often need more support, understanding, what a healthy relationship looks like, and how to attain that. Having conversations around what good communication, boundaries, and intentions look like is imperative to helping us gain skills to be successful in any form of relationships we have.”- Elizabeth, Age 17

“Having a very close family member deal with emotional and physical abuse, I wish dating violence was more talked about. If more people were educated on this topic I could only hope people would know what to look for and how to handle these situations in the real world.”- Sarah

I believe it is important to talk about Teen Violence and healthy relationships, because some people may be in a relationship and not know it is a harmful relationship. They may think that what is happening is normal but in fact, it may be the opposite. They may be being used for something or getting involved with the wrong things. Some relationships may end in violence but you could never see it coming. So I think it is great to talk about Teen Violence and Healthy Relationships to let parents and teens alike know what to look out (for) and so that no one gets hurt.”- Rachel, Age 17

read more

Work with our prevention team!

While these numbers are staggering, teens can build resilience with the right resources and support. The Prevention Team’s free services can vary from group setting/classes to one-on-one confidential advocacy; whatever serves the need best. Our Prevention Team provides free education and training, and workshops are available to youth as well as staff members, teachers, counselors, and other professionals who work with youth, including:

  • Adolescent Youth
  • School counselors, teachers, and administrators
  • Youth-services programs
  • Youth engagement organizations and community resource providers 

learn more

Our Prevention Team is here to help! Call or email today to begin preventing intimate partner violence before it ever begins.

Prevention Team Contact Information

YWCA Spokane-Prevention Team
930 N Monroe, Spokane WA 99201

Our Youth Trauma Services are here for you

Our youth trauma services for youth witnessing intimate partner domestic violence include counseling support for children 18 years old or younger as well as one-on-one interaction and family counseling. Education and support groups are provided for the parent and/or guardian to assist with the family unit’s movement through trauma.

learn more

Call Jessi at 509-789-9309 for more information or email jessit@ywcaspokane.org to get support for your child today. 

By: Olivia Moorer

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