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Teen Dating Violence: What is Sexual Abuse

LoveisRespectFebruary is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Parents, teens, educators need to take the time to learn more about teen dating abuse.

Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms.Some examples of sexual assault and abuse are:

  • Unwanted kissing or touching.
  • Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
  • Rape or attempted rape.
  • Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.
  • Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
  • Threatening or pressuring someone into unwanted sexual activity.

Keep in Mind

  • Everyone has the right to decide what they do or don’t want to do sexually. Not all sexual assaults are violent “attacks.”
  • Most victims of sexual assault know the assailant.
  • Both men and women can be victims of sexual abuse.
  • Both men and women can be perpetrators of sexual abuse.
  • Sexual abuse can occur in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.
  • Sexual abuse can occur between two people who have been sexual with each other before, including people who are married or dating.

What to Do

If you have been sexually assaulted, first get to a safe place away from the attacker. You may be scared, angry and confused, but remember the abuse was in no way your fault. You have options. You can:

  • Contact Someone You Trust. Many people feel fear, guilt, anger, shame and/or shock after they have been sexually assaulted. Having someone there to support you as you deal with these emotions can make a big difference. It may be helpful to speak with a counselor, someone at a sexual assault hotline or a support group. Get more tips for building a support system.
  • Report What Happened to the Police. If you do decide to report what happened, you will have a stronger case if you do not alter or destroy any evidence. This means don’t shower, wash your hair or body, comb your hair or change your clothes, even if that is hard to do. If you are nervous about going to the police station, it may help to bring a friend with you. There may also be sexual assault advocates in your area who can assist you and answer your questions.
  • Go to an Emergency Room or Health Clinic. It is very important for you to seek health care as soon as you can after being assaulted. You will be treated for any injuries and offered medications to help prevent pregnancy and STIs.

Remember there is always help. For more information or to find out about available resources in your area, chat with a peer advocate.

Source:  Love is Respect

Teen Dating: Cautions of Online Dating and Teens

Teen dating is part of our kids growing up.

Now this part of life is compounded with the use of the digital world.

Skout, a mobile flirting application that uses GPS technology has been linked to three instances of sexual assault in recent weeks. In response, the under-18 portion of the community has been shut down as its organizers work to develop better safeguards.

The mobile dating site, which was originally created for adults, uses GPS technology that allows users to see nearby singles. In a safety precaution, the app does not reveal street addresses.

However, if you were at your neighborhood grocery store, you would be able to check your phone to see if another single was in the area, check the profile and then send an IM or text if you were interested in meeting that person.

In the teen version of Skout, the app pinpointed other users’ locations within a half-mile radius, and though it was supposed to be a safeguard, it proved to be the perfect tool for predators to scout their victims. In all three instances, adults took advantage of underage teens; but GPS is also a tool that can be used in teenaged dating abuse.

A technologically savvy teen can use GPS to monitor a dating partner, either through cell phones or other devices. Often, GPS isn’t needed to monitor a teenager’s location.

With the ability to update a Facebook status, Tweet or even “Check-in” via Facebook, teenagers are revealing their locations all the time.

In the past, teen dating abuse was more easily identified. Ten years ago, when landlines were the norm and phone bills had limited minutes, abusive behavior like excessive phone calls would have been easy to identify. Today, teens can put their cell phones on silent and receive unlimited texts, masking abusive behavior from parents.

“I call it an electronic leash,” said psychotherapist Dr. Jill Murray in an interview with ABC News. “I’ve had girls come into my office with cell phone bills showing 9,000 text messages and calls in a month. This is all hours of the day and night. And it’s threatening.’Hi. How are you? Where are you? Who are you with? Who are you talking to?’” Considering a teen’s constant attachment to his or her cell phone, the potential control for the abuser is virtually unlimited.

In addition to the private world of text messaging, the world of social media offers abusive teens a public platform to humiliate and degrade their partners.

Teens can use Facebook or Twitter to insult their partners or reveal embarrassing, false or intimate information about the victim. Abusive partners can even use this potential public humiliation as a form of blackmail.

You might be surprised to learn just how common it is for teens to develop an abusive relationship. The National Center for Victims of Crime cites that over 40 percent of both genders report having been involved in some form of dating violence at least once during high school.

If you recognize that your teen is in an abusive relationship, your first reaction may be to begin limiting freedoms such as Internet and cell phone use, but often teens in an abusive relationship don’t confide in their parents for fear of such restrictions.

Remember, the victim in an abusive relationship is often made to feel as though he or she has done something wrong. A reaction that could be seen as a “punishment” could only increase feelings of low self-esteem and could further alienate your teen from you and other positive support groups – while the abuser will see the opportunity to slip into the position of the ally.

Instead of revoking mobile access, you could recommend this app for your teen. It was made for college students, as a peer-based support system to help escape social situations, but it can easily apply to the teen dating world. In this app, GPS is used to empower the victim, proving that technology can be a helpful tool in avoiding abuse.

The app is called “Circle of 6” and it allows users to easily contact 6 people with discreet SOS messages:

“Come and get me. I need help getting home safely. My GPS coordinates are…” and “Call and pretend you need me. I need an interruption.”

If you notice that your teen’s partner is becoming too controlling, a good strategy is to engage in a project or take more trips together. You can also offer to facilitate outings for your teen and his or her friends. You can also go on trips and invite your teen and his or her significant other. The goal is to offer your teen examples of healthy, positive relationships that will contrast the negative emotions spurred by the abusive one.

Contributor: Amelia Wood is a blogger and freelance writer who often writes to explain medical billing and coding online. She welcomes your questions and comments at amelia1612@gmail.com.

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Chat-Roulette: 10 Things You Need to Know

Be an educated parent. Know who your teens are chatting with.

As the Internet and social networking expands there are always new concerns.  Last year Chat-Roulette made the headlines across the nation, including Florida.

With summer almost here, many teens will have more time online and more time for hanging out.  Know who they are chatting with and always be in the know when they are actually meeting someone in person.

More than 30% of new couples meet online.  Online dating has become the second most popular way to meet people behind friends.  That’s almost 1 out of every 3 couples met online.  This has increased dramatically in the last few years.  Dating websites are everywhere.  Homosexual couples are twice as likely to meet online at a whopping 61 %.  Chat roulette is the latest craze in meeting people online. 

Check out 10 things you didn’t know about chat roulette.

  1. What is Chat Roulette? Chat roulette is an online site where you meet and chat with people through web cams.  If you don’t like who you are matched up with you can click on next and like roulette the people spin and you randomly get another person to chat with.
  2. Where did Chat Roulette originate? As funny as it sounds it was invented in Russia just like Russian roulette.
  3. Can anyone use a Chat Roulette site? No, many of the sites are limited to adults only because sometimes people show more than just their faces on the video chats.  There can be nudity or crude behavior.
  4. What can you do if you want a more wholesome chat roulette? There are sites that specialize in a more family friendly chat roulette.  There are also ones that are made for a younger audience on the “teen only” sites.
  5. Who invented Chat Roulette? Andrey Turnovskiy, a 17-year-old boy, in Moscow, invented it.  He wrote the first version in about 48 hours straight.  He has made many revisions since the first version.
  6. Is Chat Roulette very popular? There can be approximately 35,000 users chatting in any particular day.
  7. Does it cost anything to do Chat Roulette? No, if you own a web cam, a computer and have Internet service you are set to go.
  8. Can I be anonymous on Chat Roulette? Well, yes and no.  You can wear a mask or something to hide your face, but it is possible to record the chat sessions and post them to Facebook or other sites.  They also keep track of IP addresses so if you do something wrong they can block you from the site.
  9. What was the very first Chat Roulette called? It was actually just called chatroulette.  There are many others that have tried to duplicate the popularity of this site, but so none have accomplished it.
  10. Can I choose who I talk to? At the beginning you had absolutely no choice.  You could end up chatting with a man or a woman, someone in another country or someone that doesn’t even speak the same language.  Now, there are certain choices you can make like choosing what language you want.