Advance Notice: Briefs

Whitmer draws attention to teen dating violence

By: - February 18, 2020 7:11 pm

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer included some startling statistics when she declared February as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer at her year-end press conference, Dec. 18, 2019 | Susan J. Demas

The release, which contained information from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, stated that almost 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year. Even more startling — only 33% of victims ever disclose the abuse.

So what is considered as dating violence?

According to, dating violence is defined as “a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power in the relationship.”

Whitmer also is calling on Michiganders to spot the signs of dating violence, which include patterns of physical, emotional, sexual, psychological and/or economic coercion and abuse to control their partners.

According to a national teen dating violence prevention advocacy group,, 82% of parents felt confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, but 58% could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse.

Helpful information

If you or someone else is in an abusive relationship and needs support, call the Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522.

You can also visit the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence provider directory

Whitmer also highlighted the importance of letting victims know that they aren’t alone, that they’re believed and that helpful resources are available to them.

One of those resources is the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Victim Services.

Debi Cain, executive director of the MDHHS division, says she and her department are committed to creating additional and improved dating violence resources for teens.

“We can all play a role in ending teen dating violence by educating ourselves, empowering young people to develop healthy relationships, and developing better supportive services,” said Cain.

The Division of Victim Services is also focused on connecting victims with the information and support they may need after experiencing abuse.

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Madeline Ciak
Madeline Ciak

Madeline Ciak is a former Michigan Advance reporter. She’s a University of Michigan-Flint graduate and previously worked as a digital media manager at NBC25/FOX66 in Flint and a weekend producer at ABC12.