May 29, 2008

Educating Youth On Toxic Relationships

"In 2004, the state cut funding for domestic violence shelters. Congress reduced funding for the Victims of Crimes Act—one of the key sources of revenue for states—by close to $75 million earlier this year. Illinois' share of the federal money dropped from more than $16 million to around $11.6 million.

The shortfalls have forced 27 counties in southern Illinois to cut courthouse advocates who work specifically with abused women by helping them understand their rights and apply for protective orders, referring them to shelters and shuttling them to and from court, Ferguson said.

Meanwhile, the need continues to rise, Ferguson said. Illinois courts granted more than 60,000 orders of protection in 2007, but two-thirds of women seeking help never get it, she said." Full Tribune Article
Sadly, too many women become victims of abuse by co-creating the atmosphere that fosters it. There are cases of abuse to men from women too. Many will get ruffled but that’s the way it is. We see teenage mothers who continue the pattern they grew up in thinking it is ‘normal’. It’s normal to make a mistake but it’s habitual to keep repeating it.

Scenario: What about a young woman who has a child with a convicted felon who was busted for dealing drugs? Does she move on with her life and care for her child or does she continue to pal around with Baby Daddy? Baby Daddy lives with another woman but the young mother clings to some fantasy because he’s the father of her baby. So where does that fantasy lead? Oh, jealousy, anger, fights, and the possibility of all three adults stalking one another, and ultimately physical and/or property damage for starters.

Rather than breaking the insidious pattern, the young woman becomes pregnant by him again. Is she repetitively clinging to a fantasy thinking he will change his ways and they’ll live happily ever after? Does she think that if she loves him more he will change? Does she allow him to use the first child as a weapon to keep coming around? Unfortunately, the answer is usually yes, because she doesn’t see a pattern.

It’s symptomatic of low self-esteem, the need to be loved, the need to love, and an ingrained mindset that love conquers all. These symptoms, like all deadly diseases, do not discriminate according to age, gender, income, education, or ethnicity.

Perhaps instituting classes in 7th-12th grades on the patterns of abusive, toxic relationships might be just as or more preventative than a paper with an order of protection. The latter comes after the abuse. Could this be another symptom of the tunnel vision of lawmakers and enablers?

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