Teen Dating Violence Prevention Curriculum


NAWHERC Addresses Teen Dating Violence by Developing Prevention Curriculum

Spring 2002

As a group, adolescent girls and younger women are especially vulnerable to sexual assault and intimate partner violence. The 1992 National Women’s Study revealed that nearly two-thirds of all rape victims were under the age of 18 at the time of the incident. Also, according to a 2000 Bureau of Justice Statistics report, women ages 16 to 24 are almost three times more likely than women of any other age group to suffer non-fatal intimate partner violence.

The impact of such abuse pervades Native American communities as well. Alarmingly, a 2000 National Violence Against Women Survey by the National Institute of Justice stated that the rate of reported intimate partner rape for Native American Women is over twice that for white or African American women.

“As a community member that lives, works, and raises my family in the [Yankton Sioux] community, I'm very much aware of the level of domestic violence, sexual abuse, incest, and partner rape that is occurring,” says Charon Asetoyer, Executive Director of the Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center in Lake Andes, South Dakota. In 1997, the Resource Center began support groups for adolescent girls; the program underscored the extent of dating violence faced by young teens.

“The theme of dating violence or partner pressure to have sex kept occurring and recurring over and over again throughout the program,” Asetoyer explains. “So it was at that point that we realized the need for putting together a curriculum that would help the victims to begin the long journey of healing.”

A “Teen Dating Violence Prevention Curriculum and Workbook for Native American Girls” was developed from presentations and exercises given to the support group. Consisting of a Personal Workbook for each participant and Facilitator’s Guide, the newly inaugurated curriculum emphasizes an early prevention framework, seeking to empower youth with information on dating violence to avoid, recognize, and escape abusive situations. At the same time, it also includes exercises to help survivors of abuse deal with their experiences and begin to heal. Topics include qualities of a healthy relationship, setting boundaries, assertiveness and communication, danger signs, defining abuse, gender stereotypes, what to do in case of assault, legal rights, understanding feelings, and dealing with trauma.

“The exercises will help young women to identify and have a better understanding of healthy relationships, and to realize that they have rights in a relationship … [that] those rights need to be respected by their partners,” says Asetoyer. “That’s what this is all about--helping young women gain confidence and build self-esteem. The skills they learn will last them a lifetime.”

The dating violence curriculum is designed to be presented during workshops or classes with a limited amount of time. Material is broken into topic chapters, and the Facilitator’s Guide offers suggestions for how to conduct each section. Also, the Personal Workbook includes journal pages where participants can further contemplate exercises on their own time. Structured by “Rules of Group” such as confidentiality and respect, the presentation format outlined in the curriculum strives to provide participants with a safe environment to process their experiences and voice their feelings, questions, or concerns.

Over the following months, the Resource Center will launch trainings to introduce the curriculum to educators, counselors, tribal agencies, and advocates nationwide. Training sessions will be conducted at conferences throughout the country to phase the curriculum into schools, starting with the Montana/Wyoming and Wisconsin Indian Education Association conferences in April, followed by the South Dakota and National Indian Education Association conferences in the fall. The materials will also be available for purchase through the Resource Center’s website.

“It’s time to bring this very sensitive topic out from behind closed doors and into the classroom,” Asetoyer emphasizes, “so that our young people can learn about this issue as a social issue and start their own personal journeys to recovery, for those that have become victims.”

To arrange training sessions in your area or obtain copies of the curriculum, contact:

Charon Asetoyer
The Native American Women’s Health Education Resource Center
PO Box 573
Lake Andes, SD 57356-0572
fax: (605) 487-7964
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

1 (Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence) http://www.acadv.org/dating.html#statistics

2 Conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston University School of Public Health, and Massachusetts Department of Public Health, through surveys of 1,977 and 2,186 9th through 12th grade girls at randomly selected high school classrooms in most states, in 1997 and 1999 respectively.

3 Sponsored by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Victim Center, and National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center at the Medical University of South Carolina, Washington, D.C.