- Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.1
- One in three girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence. 2
- One in ten high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.3
- One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse or date rape.4
1 in 3 girls in the US is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. These are the statistics on the Teen Dating Violence Awareness website. When I was in college, the numbers we cited were 1 in 4. Anecdotally, I rarely meet anyone who is one of the other 3. The issue is so pervasive, some of the women I meet can’t even be bothered to be upset about it. Which is upsetting.
In honor of Lisa Schroeder’s new YA novel, Falling for You, we’ve been running a poetry contest for teens over the past few weeks. Falling for You is an issues book with a happy ending. Rae lives with her mother and a controlling, abusive step-father. He demands she take care of the house, cook his dinner, and eventually turn over her paychecks from the Flower Shop where she works after school. Rae’s solace is her poetry. She writes through her pain and, because she is afraid to tell even her closest friends about her home life, poetry is her only outlet of expression. When Rae meets Nathan, she is surprised at how much he seems to like her. Rae is even more surprised to slowly discover that Nathan’s feelings towards her are less about love than they are about his need to control her.
Because poetry is such a formative aspect of the novel, we decided to host a poetry contest after the book’s release. However, I don’t want to ignore another significant part of Schroeder’s novel, which is the abuse that Rae endures at the hand of her step-father that then resurfaces in a different form in her relationship with Nathan. Nathan’s actions, in the name of love, are anything but. Rae knows something’s not right, but again and again, the people around her dismiss her feelings. Not surprising really. If 1 in 3 girls experiences abuse in a relationship, then abuse becomes horrifyingly normal.
February is Teen Dating Awareness month, and in honor of ALL teens — female and male — who have experienced violence in a relationship, we have selected 8 novels that deal with these types of struggles. The novels all raise different issues and we hope that they can be used to spark conversations about dating violence and the confusion that often surrounds such conversations. Check back for reviews of a selection of our 8 by Eight books and please jump in and join the conversation.