By Sarah Pesi, National Youth Advisory Board member
Today we’re kicking off Respect Week 2016! During this special week, my fellow board members and I are encouraging young people across the country to get involved, raise awareness about dating violence and promote healthy relationships. Our Respect Week guide offers step-by-step instructions and ideas for raising awareness in your community. You can reference the guide to decide which ideas are best for your school or campus, and you can tailor activities to your own needs and time constraints. Some activities require a lot of planning, but others can be done really easily and still have a huge impact!
Why is raising awareness so important? Well, we know that one in three teens experiences some form of dating abuse by a dating partner – which is approximately 1.5 million teens annually in the U.S. In fact, young people between the ages of 16-24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence. This means there are likely people at your school or on your campus who are suffering in silence, and you can help by connecting them with resources to help them safely get out of an unhealthy or abusive relationship. You can also educate people about warning signs and stop abuse before it starts. The simple act of raising awareness can help prevent violence and make a difference in someone’s life. And if you can make a difference in just one person’s life, it’s worth it!
I’m really excited about this month’s theme for Teen DV Month, “Love is Setting Boundaries.” Setting boundaries is a sign of love and respect, which is perfect for Respect Week! It is really important that you and your partner are your own people with your own goals and hobbies, and that you have space to be able to tell your partner what you are and are not comfortable with. Defining your boundaries is a sign of respect for yourself, and if you define them you can more easily identify when they are being violated. Boundaries are personal to each individual, which is why it’s important to foster healthy communication between you and your partner. You should feel safe and guilt-free to say “No,” “I’m uncomfortable,” “That’s not ok,” and “I need space.” Loveisrespect will be offering many resources addressing this complicated topic throughout the month, so be sure to join the discussion and share the information with your peers!
What Can You Do for Respect Week?
- Download the guide and raise awareness in your community. Let us know what you’re doing on social media using #RespectWeek2016
- Wear orange on Tuesday, Feb. 9. Share pics on social media using #orange4love and #RespectWeek2016
- Share the National Respect Announcement with your school, and join our Thunderclap to spread the message on social media
- Write a blog or Tumblr post about why it’s important to raise awareness about dating violence
- Share information about healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors with your friends
- Tell everyone you know that loveisrespect is a great resource for anyone who has questions or concerns about their relationship
- Mark your calendars for next week’s Twitter chat on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. EST