Central Florida advocacy groups warn of disturbing increase in teen domestic violence

ORLANDO, Fla. — Across Central Florida, domestic violence advocacy groups have noticed a disturbing increase in teen dating violence.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, women between the ages of 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of violence from a partner


Alexia Valle said she was just 17 years old when she first experienced domestic abuse.

“A lot of people around me would tell me ‘hey, I don’t know what’s going on, but you don’t seem yourself,’” Valle said.

She said that the emotional and verbal abuse got so bad she was looking for any way out.

“My intuition told me this is not for you. You don’t belong here. You don’t deserve this,” Valle said.

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It would take Valle 5 years before she could finally leave the relationship.

Once free, it wasn’t long before she found herself in another abusive situation this one more physical than the previous one.

“What drew the line is he shoved me so hard I fell flat on the ground and suffered from a major concussion,” she said.

Valle said instead of looking for help from her family, she ended up looking for help in an emergency room.

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According to advocacy groups, 1 in 3 teens experiences physical, sexual, or emotional abuse from a dating partner.

Lisa Alexander, with Standup Survivor, said parents often do not discuss the dangers of dating abuse with their teenagers.

“We send them off, or they are in high school and these things are happening. They don’t know what to do with that, so they end up staying in the relationship longer than they would have,”  Alexander said.

Advocates say creating an open door with teens is essential to helping them establish healthy dating behavior.

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If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive relationship of any kind, immediate and confidential support is available through the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s project focused on supporting young people by visiting loveisrespect.org, calling 1-866-331-9474 (TTY: 1-800-787-3224), or texting “LOVEIS” to 22522.

More information on the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act Program can be found here.

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Matt Reeser

Matt Reeser, WFTV.com

Matt Reeser joined WFTV in 1998 as a news photographer and has worked for television stations in Kentucky and West Virginia.

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