February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month! We are busy teaching health relationships at Lakeland High School, Prairie Heights High School, Westview High School. Prairie Heights Middle School and Angola High School.
"Safe Dates" is an evidence based curriculum that educates youth and adolescents on how to identify and prevent dating violence.
The facilitator teaches at the Freshman level during the Health class each Spring and Fall.
Some of the subjects covered in this curriculum include:
How to Handle Conflict
How to Communicate Better
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships
Technology - Social Media and how to stay safe
Red Flags of Dating Abuse
Typical Dating Behaviors
What is Consent?
Gender Stereotyping and Dating Abuse
These are just a few subjects that we hit on when we talk to teens about healthy relationships.
Let's celebrate our youth and teach them how to have good, healthy relationships so that we can put an end to domestic violence.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Not An Anger Problem
Taken from Chris Moles
“I was just so angry.”
“I couldn’t help myself.”
“I just snapped!”
Words like these are common in the work I do with men who use violence in the home. Many of the men I have worked with will insist that they are not abusive, but simply need to learn how to control their anger. Unfortunately, it’s not just the guys I work with that see violence as an anger problem. I’ll occasionally hear of men being court ordered to anger management classes following domestic abuse. My conversations with Pastors and ministry leaders will also include descriptions of abuse in terms of his anger and the solutions that are offered revolve around self-control and addressing anger. The rationale may go something like this, “violence is the result of anger and therefore, we must address the perpetrators anger and anger cues in order to properly end the violence.” Now, I’m not suggesting that we avoid discussions about anger but rather that we place it in the proper context, especially when we are addressing domestic violence. I’m afraid we miss the heart if we only address anger and anger cues. After all abusers will certainly blame the victim for their anger, and cite them as the most prominent anger cue. This strategy runs the risk of leaving the heart untouched encouraging patterns of control that are nothing more than “respectable” forms of abuse. How may pastors and ministry leaders view an abusive man’s anger? Here are a couple suggestions.
1. Anger as an excuse
Anger can easily be used as an excuse for sin. Statements such as “I snapped” “I lost control.” or “My temper got the best of me.” may be accurate descriptions of the man’s emotional and behavioral responses but they are, by no means, excusable simply because we can recognize that he was angry. This is especially true for pastors who are working with husbands who have abused their wife. Scriptures like Ephesians 4:26-27 give us clear instructions on anger and its relationship to sin and the implications of sinful anger in the life of a believer. “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Men who use anger as an excuse need a clear reminder that regardless of emotional pressure, abuse is sinful as well as a careful warning of the impact of their sin on both the victim and themselves.
2. Anger as a tactic
Pastors and ministry leaders would do well to see outbursts of anger and expressions of rage as potential tools used by an abusive man to intimidate and control his partner. I have heard many men admit that fear through threat and intimidation is as effective as physical assault. A man’s rage will often illicit the same result as physical violence. This form of anger is not simply an emotional response but evidence of oppressive desires. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.” Proverbs 15:18 I have encountered many men who create a climate of fear within the home. An abusive man will use his anger as a tool to intimidate and manipulate his spouse into conformity with his desires.
Lastly, let me encourage you to view anger as a window into a man’s heart. Don’t ignore his anger. We are not listening to confirm an allegation, or understand his side of the story we are listening for the heart. Listen for the themes that will pinpoint the nature of his desires. His anger will likely point us to desires for control, tendencies to manipulate, and beliefs of entitlement? Restate stories back to him highlighting his behaviors, his desires, and the impact of both. His anger may very well reveal his beliefs about God, himself, and others.
“Are you mean?”
It’s not a question I’m asked often, so when the little girl with the cynical blue eyes asked, I knew I’d better give a straight answer.
“I don’t think so.”
“Are you nice? Are you nice to your kids? Do you ever smack their bottoms?”
I told her that I try to be nice to my four boys, but that sometimes moms and dads get angry and they do things and say things they regret. I hoped it was the answer she needed to hear.
A lot of the work I do for Elijah Haven Crisis Intervention Center is behind closed doors. I help write grants, prepare press releases and plan events. I also work with high school kids to produce a drama about teen dating violence and I speak to high school classes about healthy relationships.
But I’ve never had a face-to-face encounter with the youngest victims of domestic violence. Until today.
As their mom carried on an emotional conversation with their dad on an office phone, eight-year-old Blue Eyes and her little sister sat close by. I could tell that they were taking it all in, and taking on their mom’s pain.
I told the girls I’d find them a snack and, taking the hand of the littlest one, led them down the hall, out of earshot of their parents’ conversation. Grabbing a couple of containers of yogurt and some plastic spoons, we settled in a quiet room where I pulled out watercolor paints and paper.
Life just stinks sometimes, I’m thinking. People do mean things to one another, say things in the name of “love”, and then, when love goes sour, innocent people suffer. These little girls could be my own granddaughters, and as I watched them innocently painting and eating yogurt, my maternal instincts were primed to give their mom a lecture on how she should protect her children.
Then Blue Eyes began talking about her mom. Wise beyond her years, she told me that her mom was just 15 when she had her first child, and that she had an older brother and sister and a couple of younger ones – six kids in the family in all. She said she knew she wasn’t going to live with her daddy any more, but she missed him. She was supposed to spend today with him, but now that wasn’t going to happen. Tears spilled from her eyes.
When I left Blue Eyes and her little sister today, they were hugging the bear and monkey our agency had given them the day they arrived on our doorstep. I hugged them both and said I’d see them around.
“Hey,” said the littlest one shyly as I turned to leave. “I like you.”
Tonight, I’m praying that tomorrow is a better day for these two and for all the innocent ones who must make their way in the aftermath of their parents’ messes. It’s time for their heartache to stop.
Written by Ingrid Lochamire