HAPPAUGE, N.Y.(CBSNewYork) — Statistics show that each year, more than a million high school students are victims of physical abuse at the hands of a romantic partner.

Experts say verbal abuse can be just as prevalent, especially on social media.

As CBS2’s Reena Roy explained, there’s something being done in Suffolk County to stop the problem.

Swiping, texting, and scrolling can be especially dangerous for teens. Abuse in relationships often begins with words.

“Saying or texting demeaning things, calling someone names, tracking their every move, sharing photos without their permission and blaming them for what’s happening,” Gwen Wright, NY State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, explained.

One survivor recalls the verbal torture she faced when she was just 15.

“Tears rolling down my face, just standing there waiting for those constant words to stop,” she said.

About a third of young people get online threats, according to Suffolk County and New York State authorities. It can often turn into so much more.

Now, they’re taking things to the web with a new social media campaign throughout Teen Dating Abuse Awareness month.

“We must do more to stop this. We must do everything we can to stop this,” Suffolk County Executive, Steve Bellone said.

You might see #NotJustPhysical floating around, plus ads targeting 13 to 17-year-olds on Snapchat and Instagram.

“Helping them connect to the resources they need if they find themselves in a physically, sexually, psychologically, emotionally abusive relationship,” Bellone said.

If the warning signs like controlling behavior, constant teasing, and threats go under the radar, things could get worse.

“Teens are more likely to be depressed, do poorly in school, and engage in harmful behaviors,” Bellone said.

The online campaign continues until the end of the month. Officials are asking teens to ‘like’ the photos, ‘share’ them and to use #NotJustPhysical in hopes of starting a dialogue that could possibly save someone from an abusive relationship.


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