Local advocates promote National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Local advocates promote Natinal Teen Dating Violence Awarene

REXBURG, Idaho - As Valentine's Day approaches, February is a month to think about true love.

But what if love turns sour?
February is also National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and many people are looking to prevent toxic relationships on a local and national level.

"He was destroying who I was, deep in the core of my inner self," wrote "Racheal," coming clean in an essay about her own abusive relationship in hopes that others will, too.

Racheal is not alone.  Sen. Mike Crapo, R - Idaho, addressed the Senate Monday, asking his fellow lawmakers to pass the Violence Against Women Act.

"Violence should not happen to anyone," Crapo said, drawing from successful awareness programs in Idaho's high schools.  "The number of Idaho high school students reporting dating violence has dropped by 5 percent (since the programs started)."

DeAnna Palmer works for the Family Crisis Center in Rexburg.  She's seen cases of teen dating violence over the years and knows how to spot the signs of abuse.

"Dropping grades, lots of crying about a relationship, the need to have your phone, the need to answer it, isolation," Palmer said, listing some of those signs.

Palmer's suggestions sounded remarkably similar to Racheal's "warning" signs that her former relationship was abusive.

"Obsession, possession, isolation and lack of control," Racheal wrote.

Palmer works constantly to lend support and give advice to friends and family members of abuse victims.

"If you see something going on, or hear things going on -- especially with friends or relatives -- be able to say something," Palmer said.

She also helps abuse victims themselves.

"Just talk to somebody," Palmer urged.  "Talk to the school counselor, talk to your parents, talk to church leaders."

Abusive relationships can happen to anyone, Palmer explains.  Racheal is the perfect example, as she was Palmer's intern.

Racheal now goes to school in Utah and is out of her abusive relationship.

If you need help or know someone who needs help dealing with an abusive situation, you can call the Family Crisis Center 24/7.

The number is 208-356-0065.

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