As the Community Educator, I get to travel all over NYC and teach young people about dating violence and healthy relationships. My lessons serve to plant a seed in the young people that are engaged through our curriculum. My hope is that this seed will blossom into healthy relationship choices, safe love, and compassion for folks experiencing abuse. But I don't always get to reap the benefits of seeing how our lessons impact the lives of young people. That's the thing about preventative education, if you do your job right, you'll prevent things, and it's really hard to measure things that didn't happen.
But every now and then, there are moments in the classroom where I can see the growth and shift happen right before my eyes. It is these moments that keep me grounded in the powerful mind shifting work that I do.
Yesterday I was in a school in the Lower East Side. I was wrapping up the lesson and talking about "Victim-blaming" or the way that we often think the person responsible for the abuse is the victim/survivor. At one point I said, "Think about it. In our society, most of the time, people tell women to prevent getting raped by dressing a certain way, not traveling alone at night, not drinking too much, etc. But no one ever says to people 'Don't rape!" The class laughed and one young woman quickly exclaimed "OMG I never thought of it in that way!!!" It was so evident that the example I presented had helped her understand why the responsibility of not being abused (or raped) should NOT be on the person experiencing the abuse. And as such, blame for the abuse should not be placed on this person as well.
After this, I reminded the class that Day One is an excellent resource for young people that may be experiencing abuse. And that if they ever know someone that is in an abusive relationship to please tell them about us, and to remember not to blame them for the abuse. Applause filled the room. I silently gathered my materials as the students walked out, and then left the classroom with a deep smile on my face.
Day One would like to thank VDay Downtown Brooklyn director Briar Herrera-Ludewig and her team for the wonderful set of performance held at the Brooklyn Musical School this past weekend! They raised over $1,000 and Day One is honored to be the beneficiary of this wonderful activist group!
In the Headlines
National campaign raises awareness about dating abuse through pop music. PAVE (Preventing Abuse and Violence Through Education) the Way, a project by Minnesota based organization Cornerstone and MTE Inc., is designed to promote healthy relationships and empower teens to take a stand against dating violence through the expression of pop music. Seven musicians, aged 13 to 20 from across the country, contributed original songs to the non-profit project to raise awareness of dating violence alongside their peers. A New York native is one of the selected participants. Also recently launched is The Red Flag Campaign, another national initiative designed to raise awareness of relationship issues, teach peers how to spot them in each other's relationships and encourage peers to speak up when a 'red flag' is spotted.
An advocate laments the humorous treatment of dating violence in pop culture. "It seems violence against women has graduated from social crisis to trendy marketing campaign. The cultural zeitgeist is in motion and businesses have noticed. So have your kids. Following Brown's controversial appearance at this year's Grammy awards, dozens of young women tweeted: ". . . he can beat me anytime." Last summer, #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend and #rapistsongs trended big on Twitter."
Sexual Assault Awareness Month campaigns across the country include dating violence in their messages. An Illinois victim services group is highlighted for their support of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors. A Texas university production called "Get Sexy. Get Consent" highlights sexual consent, boundaries and safety. An Ohio university sponsors a number of events in honor of the month. A Louisiana university holds events focusing on sexual assault issues in the community. A Virginia university campaign reminds everyone that it is important to keep women safe.
In the Headlines
Day One Executive Director discusses findings about physical abuse among 7thgraders. Day One Executive Director Stephanie Nilva discussed the recent study by Start Strong, an organization that promotes healthy relationships among teens, which found that seventy-five percent of 7th graders surveyed said they'd had a boyfriend or girlfriend at some point. She said the data was not surprising because studies of dating violence among teens typically find that 10-40% have experienced it.
Feature on New York City administrative judge for family court gives peek into issues faced at court daily. Judge Richardson-Mendelson is usually behind a desk as the administrative judge in charge of all the Family Courts in New York City. She assigns judges, worries about court calendars and sits in long, dull meetings. But a few times a month, she sits on the bench somewhere in the city and hears for herself what may be the most troubling cases in the courts: tales of abuse, neglect, threats and violence behind the doors of New York's families.
University of California, Davis researchers finds education program effective in discouraging dating abuse among male student athletes. A study conducted by UC Davis researchers has found that a structured program delivered by coaches, called "Coaching Boys into Men," (CBIM) is effective for discouraging adolescent dating violence. CBIM is a high school athletics-based program that engaged athletic coaches as positive role models to deliver violence-prevention messages to young male athletes. The changes observed were not huge, but the researchers found that the athletes whose coaches participated in the discussions were more likely than those in the control group to say they'd intervene if they witnessed a peer's abusive behavior. "Coaches are important role models for young men and are very powerful messengers," said the lead researcher.
An attorney says the recent death of a local teen highlights the tragedy of teen dating violence. "The strangulation of 18-year-old Sarah Billingsley-Walker of Vashon High School is a sad reminder that intimate partner violence can happen to anyone, including bright and resourceful teenagers from supportive families. Seeing a loved one stay with an abuser is painful. Friends and family can help by staying connected, listening without judgment, establishing a "Safety Plan" and sharing community resources."
New York martial arts class educates women on self-defense strategies and dating abuse. Tiger Schulmann's Mixed Martial Arts Center in the Lower Hudson Valley, in conjunction with The Elizabeth Gabrielle Butler Angel Foundation, offered a free clinic for women, teaching them basic martial arts techniques to defend against attackers and pro-active ways to guard their safety. Participants discussed rape, dating violence and how to recognize and defend themselves from both.
Our Program Director Margarita Guzman is away this week attending the 2012 International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Stalking in San Diego, CA. It's a conference held every year by End Violence Against Women International, an organization that focuses on connecting professionals and strengthening the community's response system to sexual violence.
We checked in with her yesterday to see how things were going:
What are your favorite panels so far?
I've enjoyed attending Family Justice Centers: A Co-Location Model for Multi-Disciplinary Professionals by Casey Gwinn, President of the National Family Justice Center Alliance, San Diego, CA and Trauma Matters: The Connection between Addiction, Mental Health and Trauma by Stephanie Covington, Institute for Relational Development, Center for Gender and Justice, La Jolla, CA.
Why do you think this is an important conference?
A conference like this is really one-of-a-kind because it gathers an incredible cross-section of service providers engaging with survivors of IPV, Sexual Assault and Stalking. It provides critically important connectivity to folks doing this work from multiple vantage points.
Is there anything missing from this conference?
I wish there were regional outbreak groups where we can game plan together to bring some of these principles back home.
Its important for us to have these training opportunities to re-invest us in the work, ground us in our goals, and give us fresh perspectives on problem-solving.
This year's NYC Healthy Teen Relationship Conference will be held on May 11th! We are looking for powerful youth-centered workshops that focus on our theme:
We are more digitally connected than ever before. We facebook, text, tweet, google chat, email and skype one another with a simple click. This has led to an amazing increase in human connection and interaction, but it has also opened a new realm to perpetuate unhealthy or abusive behaviors. Furthermore, this digital age has provided us with more access to information on people's lives around the world, yet young people seldom see models of healthy relationships and often exclaim that a healthy relationship is "impossible" to achieve. We rarely have models on how to stand up and be an "up-stander" when we see abuse or violence on-line. This conference will create a space for young people to build their skills and become advocates for healthy relationships in and outside of cyber space.
Please click here if you'd like to submit a workshop proposal!!!
Registration is NOW OPEN for
the 2012 Healthy Teen Relationships Conference!!
Admission is free. Lunch will be provided.
Conference will be held:
Friday, May 11th
8:30 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.
at the ACS Children's Center
492 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10016
For more information about how you can sponsor or volunteer at the event please contact< firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to hearing from you,
The Healthy Teen Relationships Coalition
Categories: Take Action