Although teens should learn about teen dating violence, none should have to learn the way that Noelle “Cricket” Jones did one week ago today when she was shot at school.

This shooting took place in the backyard of Dallas – only 40 miles south – in Italy, Texas. Just minutes before school started, a 16-year-old male entered the cafeteria and fired twice at his previous girlfriend, Noelle, hitting her in the neck and chest. She was airlifted to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. The shooter has been charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and is currently in a juvenile detention center.

Although she is on the road to recovery, Noelle’s life will be forever altered by a high school break up gone horribly wrong. Teenage dating violence isn’t just one argument or a bad mood after a bad day. Dating or relationship violence is a pattern of power and control where someone is aggressive towards his or her significant other. Abuse doesn’t have to be physical – it can include verbal insults, belittling comments, isolation from friends and family, controlling behavior, and more. It can happen to anyone, any age, any ethnicity, any lifestyle choice. It can happen in your back yard, and it can be life-threatening.

Thursday marks February 1 – the first day of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it. In recognition of this, below are five ways to help a friend should you think she may be in trouble.

5 Ways to Be Her First Step

1. Believe her.

“I am so glad you feel comfortable talking to me about this. What is happening in your relationship is not okay and I want to support you as best as I can.”

2. Don’t blame her.

“This is not your fault. Everybody deserves to be safe in their relationship.”

3. Help her begin to think about safety planning.

“Let’s talk about how I can help. Who are other people you trust that you can talk to about this? When are the times you feel most vulnerable or unsafe?”

4. Refer her to Genesis.

“There are people who can help you. Have you heard of Genesis? You can call their 24-hour hotline anytime at 214.946.HELP (4357) for support.”

5. Continue to provide support.

“This must feel really scary and overwhelming. I want you to know that I’m here for you through this process, no matter what happens.”

If you know someone in an abusive relationship, invite her to call our 24-hour hotline at 214.946.HELP (4357).