SAAFE House offers services for teen dating violence - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

SAAFE House offers services for teen dating violence

Anthony Ormsbee. SAAFE House's Community Relations Coordinator Anthony Ormsbee. SAAFE House's Community Relations Coordinator

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month across the United States, and one East Texas organization wants you to know they're here to help.

The Sexual Assault and Abuse Free Environment, or SAAFE, House has two shelters and four outreach centers in Walker, Polk, San Jacinto, and Trinity counties.

And staff members at SAAFE house say teen dating violence a big problem right here in East Texas.

"Here in Texas, it's one in every 4 teens that will at some point in their high school career become a victim of physical, emotional, verbal, or psychological abuse, but the national average is one in 3," says Anthony Ormsbee, SAAFE House's Community Relations Coordinator.

And Ormsbee says a lot of those cases go unreported.

"We know that there's probably about one-half of the teens that go through it never tell people or seek services," he says.

SAAFE House provides counseling and advocacy services in their shelters and outreach centers to help those teens get their lives back on track.

"One of the biggest things teenagers have is a fear of the criminal justice system. They don't think that it's going to work for them. They don't think that it's something that's going to believe them, and we just let them know that there's people ready to listen and provide help for them," Ormsbee says.

He says some common warning signs of teen dating abuse include controlling behavior, and obsessive social networking and text messages and emails -- signs the teen who is abused may not report, but that a friend might witness.

"It's always really important to report it. A lot of teenagers feel like, I don't want to report this because it's not my relationship, it's not my business. That's something that I hear every single day. But it's always important to tell someone because you could be saving that person's life," Ormsbee says.

If you're in a violent dating relationship and need help, or if you know of someone who needs help, SAAFE house has two 24-hour crisis hotlines you can call.

You can call (936) 291-3369 or (936) 327-2513.

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