This February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and me, along with everybody else at A Woman’s Place, whether it be staff members or fellow volunteers, consider this special month a time to raise awareness in our community and, more importantly, to be aware ourselves. Awareness is something that everyone has within them, but not everyone is aware all the time, or for the right reasons. There is definitely room for improvement in this regard. That is why this month, I encourage everyone to become more aware, whether it be simply paying more attention in class, or just observing the world from a deeper perspective. This way we will be able to come closer to our ultimate goal: ending teen dating abuse once and for all.
So, awareness, what is it? Awareness is defined as “knowledge or perception of a situation or fact.” In layman’s terms, being aware is seeing things beyond the surface, getting into the nitty-gritty, or even putting yourself in another person’s shoes. Awareness can help us as humans connect with one another and with our communities as a whole. It is through awareness that we are also able to pick apart the things that we as humans take for granted, such as why we wake up in the morning, or why the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Being aware can lead to new discoveries and can remind us of previous ones. But most importantly, being aware can help to stop teen dating abuse and violence.
Think of it this way, if you had a good friend who was stuck in a dreadfully abusive or violent relationship and you became aware of the situation, would you sit back and do nothing, or would you do the right thing and attempt to get help for your friend? Awareness is all about taking action, hence the fitting alliteration. If people do not take action when they need to, imminent problems, like teen dating violence, will not be stopped and will continue to devastate individuals and their families.
Another rhetorical question: What does being aware mean to me? To me, being aware is showing how much I care. I’m always aware when I’m volunteering in AWP’s Emergency Shelter, as I have to be attentive to the children there. Showing the children that I care about them is of great importance to me. I’m also aware at AWP’s monthly Young Adult Advisory Board (YAAB) meetings, as I am actively contributing to ideas and providing useful feedback. Showing other YAAB members and AWP staff that I truly care about the mission of A Woman’s Place is something that matters to me.
So, whether you know someone that is going through an abusive relationship or not, I encourage you to simply become more aware of the world around you, because you never know where this sense of awareness may lead you.
– Alex King, A Woman’s Place Teen Volunteer