Winning essays in the NMCADSV Know Your Worth Essay Competition. It sought to answer the question: How common do you think violence or abuse is in relationships in the CNMI? Describe what you think needs to be done to help youth and teens experiencing violence or abuse in a relationship.
Editor’s Note: The following essay won first place in the high school division of the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence 2022 Know Your Worth Essay Competition. It sought to answer the question: How common do you think violence or abuse is in relationships in the CNMI? Describe what you think needs to be done to help youth and teens experiencing violence or abuse in a relationship.
Humans have always craved affection. It’s what allows us to connect with the people around us—the feeling of love and being loved back. Everyone wants to love and be loved. However, in a world where countless films, articles, and even social media capture love to be a picture-perfect story, the pressure has never been greater for the youth to get into a relationship, but some of them get lost in that illusion and end up hurting more than getting the love they crave. Violence and abuse occur everywhere and takes up all forms—emotional, verbal, and physical—all of which leaves a detrimental effect on the victim’s life, if not ultimately taking it away. Violence and abuse in relationships is prevalent in the CNMI, but despite this, very few victims have had the courage to speak up and take action against their aggressors. This has made it hard to pinpoint the exact number of domestic violence cases and especially harder to provide help for the victims of these horrendous crimes.
As a community, we want to safeguard our people, including our youth. One of the best ways we can protect them and prevent violence and abuse from happening is through shedding light and raising awareness on the matter. Authorities such as the PSS, DYS, and NMCADSV should prioritize implementing seminars and classes that raise awareness on violence and abuse, focusing on key topics like recognizing the signs of abuse and knowing their resources when experiencing or witnessing abuse. Through these seminars, the youth becomes aware of this occurrence and what they can do to help not only themselves but others as well.
Along with preventive measures, authorities must also strengthen their services for abuse victims by implementing strategies that make seeking help more accessible. Set up help desks in schools and communities, provide additional phone lines, integrate programs that help youth express their problems more comfortably. We must also focus on delivering effective support and care for victims who reach out, provide psychological support for the victims, and ensure their safety and security. Through these programs, we give victims of domestic violence an avenue to seek refuge and gain back the life and happiness they deserve.
It is not too late to take action. We must act efficiently and treat these cases with the same amount of priority we do with our health as domestic violence impacts our emotional, mental, and physical state after all. At the end of the day, everyone deserves to experience love—the kind of love where they are safe and supported and never have to be afraid of saying the wrong thing. It is up to us to educate our youth on healthy relationships as ensuring their safety starts with us giving them a safe space.
JERMAINE CHLOE YALUNG (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Jermaine Chloe Yalung is a student of Dr. Rita H. Inos Jr./Sr. High School on Rota.