Advocacy groups say one third of teenagers are or have been in a violent or abusive relationship.
For just the third time, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence is marking February as teen dating violence awareness month, hoping to draw attention to the problem. The group says sometimes teens are unwilling to seek help or report it. The coalition says one in three teens in the US is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. It says 57-percent of teens know someone who has been abusive. That's why the group is trying to raise awareness. The group says it's trying to provide support to current victims and is encouraging healthy relationships among teens.
When we told viewers on Facebook we were looking into the issue of dating violence the stories slowly started coming in.
"My son's father wanted my son killed while I was pregnant. I was only 16 then," wrote one woman.
"The neighbor boy thought he owned me. Looking back, I could never understand why people didn't step in," said another.
"He hit me so hard one day that it chipped my tooth. He once hit me with a bat…" "He would always tell me how sorry he was and it wouldn't happen again," explained another victim.
Then we heard from Greg Schreiner. The 19 year old man in Eau Claire says he was to blame for verbal abuse in his teen relationship a few years ago.
"I always went on her Facebook and email just looking thought her personal stuff and harassing her about people she was talking to just to get information," says Schreiner.
He says looking back he knows it was wrong and says he knows people can change, that's why he wants to share his story. He says he changed his ways and regrets the choices he made while in high school.
"If you know someone who is being abused you should speak up because you could save somebody's life," says Schreiner.
The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence says teen dating violence is higher than all other forms of youth violence but the group says it's under reported. Local officers say they don't hear much about it.
"This is always a topic where it's hard for people to come forward. They might be embarrassed or they don't want to get anyone else in trouble but as we look at domestic violence little things lead to bigger things and this is where we encourage the kids to seek out a teacher, find a parent, seek out the school officers or their councilors and tell them what's going on," says Lt. Chad Hoyord with the Eau Claire Police Department.
The coalition says if the abuse goes unchecked it will likely continue as teens grow up. That's why it wants to address the issue.
If you’re a victim of violence there's a 24-hour local crisis line you can call for free help. 1-800-400-7020 and someone can help you.