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Bipartisan bill would require healthy relationship curriculum to address teen dating violence


Teen dating violence may be more common than you think.

“That’s why we have a whole month dedicated to it,” said Mia Bleicher is the Domestic Violence Program Coordinator for Embrace in the Price County office.

She says one in three teenagers will experience an abusive relationship before they reach adulthood.

That statistic is even higher for people that identify as LGBTQ-plus.

“People who identify as non-binary it comes down to one in two. So people that may identify as LGBTQ-plus community or any other minority group, just like any other violence they experience it at disproportional rates,” said Bleicher.

That violence isn’t limited to physical and sexual abuse.

Bleicher says it can also take the form of emotional abuse.

“It can be from manipulating to gaslighting and what those could mean is making you feel like your experience is invalidated or making you feel like you’re almost crazy for feeling what you are feeling, telling you that you aren’t actually feeling those things, or those things didn’t actually happen,” she said.

Bleicher supports a bi-partisan bill introduce by Madison State Senator Melissa Agard.

It addresses teen dating violence as a health crisis and would require curriculum in schools to help build healthy relationships and prevent dating violence.

Bleicher believes it would help ensure those conversations are happening.

But with or without the bill, she would like to see schools reach out to their local domestic violence organizations like Embrace to help facilitate those conservations.

“We’re more than happy to have these conversations, come into the schools and being able to be the ones to talk about it. We have the resources. We have the staff,” said Bleicher.

She also hopes it would make teens more open to talking about abuse they’ve experienced, since advocates don’t have to report it.

Only 33% of teens who have experienced violence have ever told anyone.

If you or someone you know has a question about a relationship, healthy or unhealthy, you can call or text Embrace 24/7 at 715-532-6976.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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