State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today announced the unanimous passage of House Bill 94, her bipartisan legislation to establish February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month in Ohio. Joint-sponsored by Rep. Rick Perales (R-Beavercreek), the bill will help raise awareness regarding teen dating violence in hopes of stopping abuse before it starts and helping victims reach safety from their abuser.
“When left unchecked, dating violence among teens often escalates and leads to dating violence among young adults, perpetuating the cycle of violence for a lifetime,” said Sykes. “Ending and preventing violent relationships will improve the lives of young women and men as they enter adulthood by helping them recognize what it means to be in a healthy, loving relationship.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, abuse occurring in teenage relationships is very real, extremely dangerous and can worsen with age. Research compiled by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network shows that one in five teenagers in a serious relationship reported physical abuse from their partner, and one in three teenage women say they feared their partner would abuse them.
Earlier this year, Rep. Sykes championed the successful House passage of House Bill 1, bipartisan legislation to expand domestic violence protection orders to those in a dating or intimate relationships. Under current Ohio law, people in ongoing, substantial, intimate and romantic relationships are not included in Ohio’s definition of victims of domestic violence, leaving them without necessary protection.
The National Dating Violence Hotline defines intimate partner violence, which includes dating violence, as a repetitive pattern of behaviors – including physical or sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation – used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Women aged 18 to 24 face the highest rates of intimate partner violence. In the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds.