MB groups work together to educate teens on relationship abuse

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - What would you do if you found out your child, relative or best friend was in an abusive relationship? That was the question posed to Myrtle Beach High School juniors and seniors Thursday at a domestic abuse awareness presentation.

Organizers say abusive relationships between teenagers are especially dangerous because these days it's not just physical, thanks to the internet and social media sites.

"A lot of times girls will allow their boyfriends to take pictures of them in sexually-explicit situations," says Traci Chanaka, the supervisor of the Juvenile Unit with the Myrtle Beach Police Department. "They have a false sense of security that their boyfriend is going to keep that private. However, when things don't work out between them, we have seen this in the law enforcement community, the boyfriend then sends out all these images to all his friends, puts it on his Facebook page, and that sort of thing."

It doesn't stop there; police say abusers harass their victims by logging onto the victims' profiles and going through them, or posting statuses about the victim. Still, a lot of the abuse is physical.

So the high school teamed up with the Myrtle Beach Police Department, The City of Myrtle Beach, New Directions and the Lifeline domestic violence safe house to hold a presentation called the Aspire Initiative.

The goal is to get teenagers to look for signs someone they know may be in an abusive relationship.

Teens are at an impressionable age where their image means a lot.

Organizers say that's part of the reason some teens don't speak out when they are in an abusive relationship. Plus, it's a topic that people don't like discussing.

"Everybody knows it's happening, but nobody wants to talk about it," says Myrtle Beach High School's School Resource Officer. "So it's just good to educate them, get it out, let them know what an abusive relationship is and how to get help."

So they're working to spread the awareness beyond Myrtle Beach High School. They hope the school district will put the program into play in every Horry County high school and middle school by the fall.

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