Growing Number of Teenagers are Victims of Dating Violence - 8 News NOW

Growing Number of Teenagers are Victims of Dating Violence

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LAS VEGAS -- When domestic violence is discussed, people often think of adults as victims. However, the number of kids and teenagers being impacted is a growing.

The latest statistics by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show nearly 1-and-a-half million high school students in the U.S. experience some form of physical abuse by their dating partners.

Plus, 1-in-3 girls nationwide is considered a victim of physical, emotional and verbal violence.

Tara Alcox understands the cycle of violence. She still gets very emotional when she talks about the three years that she faced constant physical and emotional abuse by a boy who said he loved her.

At 16, Alcox looked like a typical teenager. She was in school, and she was in love with her new boyfriend.

"You are so innocent. You think that love is going to come at your doorstep, and it is going to be a fairytale," Alcox said.

But that fairytale soon turned into a nightmare, as her boyfriend started tracking her every move, controlling who she could see and then things got violent.

"He was would slap me around if I didn't jump at his request. He strangled me and I went unconscious for a couple of minutes," Alcox remembered.

Alcox's story is not uncommon.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical and emotional violence among dating partners in this country starts as young 11 years old.

What is scary, according to high school counselor specialist Alane McQueeney Lotz, is that often students don't talk about the abuse.

"Sometimes students just don't know the kind of relationships that are healthy and abusive," McQueeney Lotz explained.

McQueeney Lotz says it is part of her training to get teachers and counselors to see the signs of abuse. A new form of manipulation and control can be found in social media where teens threaten to post pictures or stories about their boyfriends or girlfriends for the whole world to see.

The Clark County School District also recently launched a coping skills curriculum to teach kids how to handle stressors in life, including toxic relationships.

Now at 23, Tara Alcox volunteers with local organizations like Safe Nest, helping young girls steer clear of abusive partners.

"Just always hold on to your identity and your self respect because if you don't, nobody is going to respect you," Alcox said.

Alcox credits her family, especially her father, with giving her the confidence to leave her ex-boyfriend.

For more on teen dating violence and how to get help, go to loveisrespect.org.

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