ELYRIA — It starts gradually at first, so gradually that most people miss the signs.
But there are almost always signs.
They are signs of verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of both males and females
It isn’t just aimed at adults, it happens to teens as well, according to Todd Walts, president and CEO of Campus Impact in Amherst.
Campus Impact provides bullying and school violence prevention and character education for students in Lorain County and beyond. Its staff is nationally certified as bullying prevention trainers.
Campus Impact is offering a free Teen Dating Abuse Prevention Awareness Night at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Norton Culinary Arts Center lobby, between the Spitzer Conference Center and Stocker Center at Lorain County Community College, Elyria.
The event is open to the public.
“I was talking to a family last week and their son was in a relationship where he was being abused,” Walts said. “They weren’t aware, even though it was very apparent. Looking back, they had that ‘a-ha’ moment, where they thought, ‘That’s what that was about.’ ”
In that instance, the boy was being controlled by his significant other. She would text him constantly.
“When someone is controlling, they have to know where their dating partner is all of the time,” Walts said. “They send text messages asking, ‘Where are you?’ and ‘What are you doing?’ They say things that are really demeaning, so that the other person believes they are the only person that can really love them. They even convinced them that their parents don’t love them.”
Sometimes, they make their significant other sell their possessions to buy them things to prove their love.
“Teen abuse isn’t just physical,” he said. “There are all levels.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, dating violence is a type of intimate partner violence.
It occurs between two people in a close relationship. The nature of dating violence can be physical, emotional, or sexual.
Physical — This occurs when a partner is pinched, hit, shoved, or kicked.
Emotional — This means threatening a partner or harming his or her sense of self-worth. Examples include name calling, shaming, bullying, embarrassing on purpose, or keeping him/her away from friends and family.
Sexual — This is forcing a partner to engage in a sex act when he or she does not or cannot consent.
Stalking — This refers to a pattern of harassing or threatening tactics used by a perpetrator that is both unwanted and causes fear in the victim.
Walts, a former youth pastor, started Campus Impact in 1999, shortly after the shootings at Columbine.
The company produces video series on bullying and other subjects that are shown around the country. In addition, staff travels to schools for live performances and conversations.
On Tuesday, the locally produced and nationally released Campus Impact Dating Abuse Prevention Video Series for schools will be viewed followed by discussion about the types of abuse, identifying warning signs, creating a safety plan, how to help a friend and more.
This video series showcases student actors from Elyria, Lorain and Amherst and was filmed at Corks Restaurant in downtown Amherst.
Craig Koehler, principal of Avon Middle School, has been inviting Campus Impact into his school for about five years for its bullying prevention program.
“Every month, all of our kids are exposed to various topics,” Koehler said. “It’s really great and the kids relate to them. The guys that come in are younger, in their 20s or early 30s. They have a wittiness about them. They relate well with the kids and I get positive notes from the staff.”
And Koehler can always tell after they have been to the school.
“There is just a change in the students,” he said.
Even though they hear the programs each month, they are always on a different topic.
Sexting prevention, academic cheating, respecting others, accepting people who are different, are some of the topics that Campus Impact has tackled.
Walts and his staff sit down with students to write the script and has their input throughout the entire process.
“It’s a passion of mine to help improve the lives that our kids already have,” Walts said. “I want to give them positive role models.”
If you go
- WHAT: Teen Dating Abuse Prevention Awareness Night
- WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday.
- WHERE: Norton Culinary Arts Center lobby, located between the Spitzer Conference Center and Stocker Center at Lorain County Community College, Elyria.
- FOR MORE INFORMATION or to RSVP: Call (440) 864-2011 or visit www.thecampusimpact.com.
Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.