First Step offers teens domestic violence help
WICHITA FALLS, TX (RNN Texoma) - Domestic violence impacts people of all ages, and it is not uncommon for those victims to be teenagers.
“The devastating thing about family violence is that it’s an equal opportunity social problem," said Debra Dyason, Executive Director of First Step. "It doesn’t matter what the age is of the person, what their economic background is, where they’re from or what their gender is, It affects everyone.”
She said young people can be more vulnerable to this type of abuse.
"Very often teens are ashamed of the fact that they're in a situation like this, and they can be even more reluctant to come forward to seek help," said Dyason.
She adds they can also be concerned about opening up to family members or friends.
“They may have tried to reach out and the person they reached out to may not have been sympathetic, and that can shut anyone down, especially a teen,” she said.
That is why noticing domestic violence signs and symptoms is important.
While red flags like physical abuse can be easy to spot, Dyason said it usually starts much sooner than that, with signs that are not always as clear.
Like emotional abuse, a victim being withdrawn and quiet, having low self esteem or not going out.
She said parents should teach their kids these signs and how to build healthy relationships.
Although this is a tough issue to address.
"It's heartbreaking," said Dyason.
There is help. Not only at First Step but in the school districts as well.
"So a young person can feel confident in going to the school counsellors, the school officials and getting support," she said.
First Step is working to develop a peer-to-peer network so teens can help each other.
Those who want to be peer advocates can reach out to the nonprofit at 940-723-7799.
The organization also offers a 24- hour crisis hotline that connects victims to an advocate that can answer any of their questions.
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