Beverly and Sara, share what it was like to go to the White House and be part of an event marking Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month:
Today I had the opportunity to attend a White House event highlighting Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.
In one word: Awesome.
High school students, college students, advocates and teachers came together to hear from a number of prominent figures including Vice President Biden.
During the event, the organization Men Can Stop Rape introduced an interesting exercise to consider different aspects of dating and to what extent members of the audience thought the behavior was harmful to a relationship.
My favorite scenario was about using social media sites such as Facebook to find out what your partner is doing when they’re not with you. Some students thought that kind of behavior was harmful because it suggested a lack of trust, while others found that it was okay as long as you weren’t intending to control your partner’s whereabouts.
It highlighted for me just how complicated social media can be: it’s a great way to connect, but sometimes it allows people to be too connected!
The event couldn’t have happened at a better time, since the House of Representatives moved mere hours before the event to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which ensures that programs like Campus SAVE continue to provide resources on healthy relationships to students around the country.
As many of the speakers emphasized in their speeches, one instance of violence is one too many.
One in ten young women are physically and deliberately hurt by their partner in the United States, so it is incredibly important to see the White House take a stand on an issue that affects millions of young people.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending an event at the White House with to commemorate Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, just hours after VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act) finally passed in the House of Representatives.
After working on VAWA as a policy intern, it was so exciting to hear that VAWA’s protections were finally being extended to college students, Native Americans and members of the LGBTQ community.
What awesome timing!
I had the honor of hearing Vice President Biden speak about how VAWA has revolutionized the way in which the criminal justice system and community respond to domestic violence. Domestic violence rates have dropped by 64% since VAWA’s enactment in 1994. VAWA has transformed our country’s response to domestic violence- by improving both victim resources and perpetrator accountability.
The audience also heard from Neil Irving, executive director of Men Can Stop Rape, who led an engaging discussion on the need for positively engaging men in the prevention of dating/domestic violence. To end the cycle of violence that still exists today, we need to promote “healthy masculinity” and respect of women among adolescents.
The most powerful message, however, was the presence of the mothers with daughters whose lives had been tragically cut short by teen dating violence. It was an eye-opening reminder that even though it’s a time to celebrate how far we have come, we must also recognize how much still needs to be done.
1 in 5 high school girls have been physically or sexually hurt by a dating partner.
Even more alarming, is that 1 in 3 teens who’ve been or know someone in an abusive relationship did not tell anyone.
Let’s celebrate by keeping the conversation going so dating abuse does not go unnoticed!
National Youth Advisory Board