By the look on his face I could tell what he was thinking, “I really want to talk to you, but I’m afraid to share.” It is rare for a teenager to disclose sensitive facts about their lives to an adult, but I knew this young man was willing to open up, he just needed an invitation.
The presentation was over and things were winding down so I walked over and began talking with Josh. We chatted about the presentation on dating abuse I had just given and then he said to me, “I’m just kinda’ mean to my girlfriend and I pressure her into doing stuff she doesn’t really want to do.”
Josh is not alone in his abusive actions. In fact, 1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner, and young women are at the highest risk of these kinds of injuries.
It was easy to see that Josh was contrite and wished to change his behavior. What he needed was God’s forgiveness and strength to change. But, he also needed to confess his sin (James 5:16) and enlist the help of caring adults who would hold him accountable for his behavior. Josh did a very brave thing, he shared his issues of abuse with his youth leader and asked for help.
ARMS has programs for young men called, Ground Work, and for young women, called Foundations. They are 10 week interactive programs that help young people recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. They are taught how to set appropriate boundaries and respect other’s boundaries.
If you are interested in helping ARMS bring these programs to your church or school and/or if you are interested in training to become a leader, please contact our office at 866-262-9284 or 503-846-9284 or email. Our youth need this program and we need your help through prayer, participation and resources.