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Speak Up!

I want to make a change in the world.

I decided to start small and give back to my local community. Last month I attended a teen training session at A Woman’s Place (AWP) so I could get educated on domestic violence and begin my volunteer work.  Before attending the training I had no idea that domestic violence could be happening in my small town, and sadly, I learned that it is an extremely prevalent issue around the world, and in my very own community. I believe the rest of society, like me, does not realize how common domestic violence is either. Domestic violence is defined as willful intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault, and other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, race, etc.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM) and teen dating violence is a silent epidemic. One in three teens, both boys and girls, have experienced some form of abuse (emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual) in a relationship. Only 33% of teens who were in abusive relationships ever told anyone about the abuse. This means that two out of three teens stay silent about it, and four in five girls remain in the relationship.

The path to ending dating violence begins with awareness. Talking about dating violence with your neighbors, friends, and family is the first step to ending it. It is crucial to teach everyone that love is respect. As Barack Obama said, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” In order to break the cycle of dating abuse, we must act. Teen dating violence has become far too common for it to be ignored any longer. It must be addressed in order to be stopped.

If you or someone you love is a victim of abuse of any kind, don’t stay quiet. There are many places to turn if you need help or don’t know what to do. Call 800-220-8116, A Woman’s Place’s 24-hour hotline or visit loveisrespect.org. Love isn’t telling someone how to act, and violence of any kind has no place in a relationship. Love is accepting. Love is Respect.

WILL YOU SPEAK UP?

Eesha Sheth
AWP Teen Volunteer

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