Groups team up to prevent teen dating violence

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (February 12, 2015) – An online forum is connecting teens to resources for dating violence prevention. The week-long forum is taking place in the middle of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

More than one in ten teenage girls in Indiana will experience dating violence, according to a recent Ball State University study. The Centers for Disease Control has teamed up with a group called Veto Violence to host an Facebook forum all about this problem.

There is also an effort to get schools to make the National Respect Announcement Friday morning. The message states: “Tomorrow’s Valentine’s Day, everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship.”

Hannah Hendricks, a teen dating violence victim, shared her story with FOX 59.

“At the age of 18, I was sexually assaulted at the college I was going to,” Hendricks said. “And from there, I didn’t get the help I needed. So, I entered into a very unhealthy relationship less than a year later.”

She met and married her abuser at age 19.

“The abuse started pretty early on, but I was kind of blinded ‘no he loves me so much, he controls me but he loves me,'” she said.

Places like The Julian Center offer abused women help.  Organization president Catherine O’Connor said they see teenagers turning to the center for assistance, too.

“When victims don’t have self-confidence or can’t find strength to leave those relationships, it makes it that much more difficult,” O’Connor said. “And, it  makes it easier for abuser to commit act of domestic violence.”

Hendricks said her husband would physically and verbally abuse her. She was able to leave him after three years.

“I finally got out, escaped by the grace of God alone,” Hendricks said. “I got my dog out and I never saw him again. But it was a very tough journey.”

She said she hopes talking about her experience will those who are enduring similar abuse.

“I look at these young women, and if I can help save one of them from entering into something that I was in, then it kind of makes all of the years of pain worth it for me,” Hendricks said.

The Facebook forum on teen dating violence continues until Friday. You can find more information here: https://www.facebook.com/VetoViolence

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