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We Support All Survivors

By Tatsumi Romano, loveisrespect National Youth Advisory Board member 

[Trigger Warning: rape and sexual assault]

By now you’ve probably heard that Brock Turner, a former Stanford athlete, was found guilty for three counts of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on campus on the night of January 17, 2015. Two students passing by tried to help the victim and had to tackle Turner to the ground as he attempted to run away from the scene. Despite the traumatizing assault of a woman who could do nothing to defend herself, Turner received a shockingly light sentence of six months in county jail, with the possibility of release after three months based on good behavior.

How’d they do it? How did Turner’s defense team manage to score such a light sentence for their Ivy League client?

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NYAB Members Speak Out During SAAM

Our National Youth Advisory Board members are speaking out during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)!

NYAB members range in age from 14 to 24, and together they work locally and nationally to raise awareness and prevent violence. Although dating violence is their primary focus, sexual assault is a major component of their efforts as it can happen in relationships, even casual ones. The NYAB believes that we all can take part in ending violence amongst young people! Two of our members share their voices below:

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Promote Healthy Relationships During Respect Week

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!

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The National Youth Advisory Board Launches the SPF15 Campaign

This is a post from our National Youth Advisory Board (NYAB)

The summer is heating up, and if you’re like us, you’re probably doing a lot more lounging by the pool, hanging out with your friends and enjoying time off from school. Maybe building a healthy relationship isn’t on your mind right now…but healthy relationships are important all year round!

This summer, to help keep healthy relationships a “hot” topic, the NYAB is launching the NYAB SPF15 campaign. SPF15 stands for Safe Partners and Friends 2015. Starting each Wednesday we’ll feature a different topic related to healthy dating, friendships, and self-esteem and we’ll post helpful tips, links and quotes on social media.

Check out our topics for each week:

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Ending Unhealthy Relationships

Today’s post was written by Alexis O., a member of the National Youth Advisory Board. To learn more about the NYAB, click here

When I was growing up, I watched my mother fall in and out of love with men who were nothing but bad for her. There was never a day when my mother and her man of the week weren’t at each others throats, and I watched, day after day as he verbally and physically abused her. Later in the day she would go crawling back, because she thought no one else would want her – a thought put in her head by the same person who had earlier called her a “stupid slut.” I always knew somewhere deep down that their behavior was abnormal, and I swore to myself to never end up like my mother had.

And I have not. Very few people know about the way I grew up. I disclose as little of my past as possible, because I believe that my past is no longer a part of me. But everyone knows about my refusal to be treated as less than, and my boyfriends over the years have had to learn that as well. There has only been one incident where my partner treated me as less than a goddess and in the end, I broke up with him.

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Dating Violence and Sexual Assault: It’s Not Only Happening to Women

Today’s post was written by Tatsumi Romano, a member of our National Youth Advisory Board.

Chances are you’ve heard about the “yes means yes” bill, passed in California on Thursday, August 28th. The bill “helps to create a shared responsibility, instead of the responsibility falling on women to say ‘no’,” said Tracey Vitchers of Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER). Becoming the first state to adopt the bill, California is redefining what consent means. As opposed to the belief that remaining silent or not resisting sexual advances indicates consent, the Golden State is taking it a step further. The model “requires the presence of a ‘yes’ rather than the absence of a ‘no’…” as Jessica Valenti of The Guardian states in her article, “Beyond ‘no means no’: the future of campus rape prevention is ‘yes means yes’”.

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Join the #VoicesHavePower Campaign

At loveisrespect, we work to inspire and support young people to build healthy relationships. Dating violence affects millions of people every year, but people are still afraid to talk about it.

You can start the conversation and bring to hope to survivors by participating in the #VoicesHavePower campaign from Verizon HopeLine now through August 8th.

Help us send over 100,000 messages of hope, love and support to survivors of domestic violence and dating abuse. For every message that contains the hashtag #VoicesHavePower, is submitted through the website or is texted to #94079, Verizon will donate $3 towards preventing domestic violence.

Survivors need to hear from you. Let them know they’re not alone. Get on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to send your message of hope. Remember to use #VoicesHavePower in your message when you reach out.

Not sure what to say to survivors? Here are some examples of actual messages sent to survivors:

  • I want you to know that I care about your sufferings, and I understand your pain. And I know you will survive this. #voiceshavepower
  • You deserve someone who loves you the right way, someone who respects you and trusts you. #voiceshavepower
  • Because there is always someone out there to listen. #VoicesHavePower

Everyone deserves a healthy relationship. #VoicesHavePower.

That’s our message for survivors of domestic violence, dating abuse, sexual assault and stalking. What will yours be? Time is running out — send your message of hope now!

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National Youth Advisory Board Retreat 2014

Our amazing National Youth Advisory Board (NYAB) got together last week for our annual retreat in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina!

The incredible NYAB members came in from all over the country to learn how to teach everyone back home about healthy relationships.

“It’s really really inspiring to see people doing what I’m doing because that means there’s more people out there,” said Chandler Lewis, one of our new NYAB members.

Here are just some of the highlights from the retreat. In just a few days, we:

  • Learned how to conduct a single-session workshop, host an outreach event and take action online
  • Sent 45 messages of hope in five minutes to dating abuse survivors as part of the #VoicesHavePower campaign going on right now. Every time you send out a social media message of support with #VoicesHavePower, Verizon will donate $3 to help end dating abuse!
  • Bonded over team building activities like rock climbing and capture the flag
  • Created healthy-relationship themed PSAs and performed skits about the true meaning of love at the campfire

“I’m normally not very outgoing but I feel like I’ve known the rest of the board forever,” said Jimmy James, another new NYAB member. “I think it’s because we are all passionate and working towards the same cause.”

We had a great time! Join in the action by checking out the winning PSA from the retreat below:

Special thanks to the Avon Foundation for sponsoring the NYAB and making this amazing week happen!