Start Talking

Are you looking for a new, engaging way to educate young people about dating abuse?

Do your students desire a more interactive experience that helps them define healthy relationships in their own terms?

Are you ready to become an “Ultimate Advocate” for loveisrespect?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, the Start Talking campaign is here for YOU.

Launched in 2012 as a three-year initiative to prevent and end dating abuse in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, the Start Talking campaign has now gone national! Through it, teens, parents, teachers and service providers are receiving tools and resources they need to promote healthy relationships.

On this page, you’ll find information about the innovative Start Talking Curriculum. Here’s helpful information from the pilot program:

  • A searchable service directory for young people in IL, OK, NM and TX to find help in their local communities.
  • If you received a toolkit in the pilot phase and need help accessing the web app, please contact [email protected]

And don’t forget to explore the rest of thehotline.org for more information on preventing dating abuse and building healthy relationships.

Loveisrespect and Blue Cross Blue Shield believe every young person deserves a healthy relationship. Join us as we Start Talking about dating abuse and help make safer homes, safer schools and safer communities.

To learn more about bringing the program to your school and/or community, please contact the Break the Cycle team at [email protected]

*For educators or group leaders giving out loveisrespect’s contact information to their classes/groups: we’ve found that an effective way to provide this information is by handing out cards with our contact information. If you have the technological capabilities, another option is to demonstrate to your class how to chat or text with us. This prevents a large number of students chatting or texting us at the same time, which can be a strain on our resources. We appreciate your cooperation, and thank you for spreading awareness about loveisrespect!

  • The Campaign

    Starting in 2012, loveisrespect partnered with Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas to inspire young people to start talking about healthy relationships.

    Together, we’ve brought the expert guidance of loveisrespect into schools, youth groups, medical offices, malls and homes, making sure every teen knew they have the right to safe and healthy relationship. Through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Start Talking campaign, we:

    • Created 1,000 Start Talking kits, including a new curriculum authored by loveisrespect
    • Distributed FREE kits to schools, youth programs and service providers in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas
    • Provided resources for parents and adults available through Blue Cross and Blue Shield health care providers
    • Trained over 450 peer leaders, educators, service providers and health care practitioners
    • Connected young people in abusive relationships to the immediate help at loveisrespect and local resources in their community

    In 2015, the Start Talking program expanded nationally!

    The new Start Talking curriculum from loveisrespect, a project of Break the Cycle and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, is an innovative step forward in dating violence prevention education and creating cultures of healthy relationships.

    From peer-led discussions, opportunities for participants to contribute their opinions and interactive tools integrated throughout the program, students will have the chance to define relationships in their terms and discover for themselves what it means to have a safe and healthy relationship.

    How Start Talking works:

    • Youth-Led: Adults support youth leaders to facilitate sessions for their peers
    • Flexible: Can be implemented once a week, bi-weekly or throughout the semester totaling ten sessions lasting 40-60 minutes each
    • Knowledge and Service Learning: Sessions 1-6 focus on education, investigation and skill development, while sessions 7-10 provide an opportunity for peer-led service learning
    • Multimedia: Online slideshow with relatable content and popular media for students to analyze

    The benefits:

    • Prevents Abuse: Lowers tolerance for abuse and increases knowledge of healthy behaviors
    • Connects to National Resources: You will have direct access to thehotline.org so you can reference dating abuse experts when needed
    • Builds Skills: Increase problem-solving, conflict resolution and youth development skills
    • Meets Standards: Meets National Health Education Standards and follows the Investigation, Preparation-Planning, Action, Reflection, Demonstration/Celebration (IPARD/C) method

    To learn more about bringing the program to your school and/or community, please contact the Break the Cycle team at [email protected]

    Special thanks goes to MTV and Lifetime for donating their content to your classroom! MTV’s “True Life: Ultimatum” used with permission by MTV. ©2014 Viacom Media Networks. All Rights Reserved. MTV, all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks owned by Viacom Media Networks, a division of Viacom International Inc.

  • The Partners

    Loveisrespect is the ultimate source of support for young people to prevent and end dating abuse, inspiring them to create a culture of healthy relationships. We reach more than 1.5 million young people annually through educational programs, online resources, public campaigns and a 24/7 peer-advocate led help service.

    Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® (HKHF) began as a three-year initiative designed to improve the health and wellness of at least one million children through community investments by Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Reaching nearly three million children within the first two years, HKHF is now a signature program of the organization and part of an ongoing commitment to invest in and partner with nonprofit organizations that offer sustainable, measurable programs to reach children and their families in areas of nutrition, physical activity, disease prevention and management and supporting safe environments. Within the safe environments pillar, HKHF supports Loveisrespect to enhance their immediate, peer-to-peer assistance and other support services in addition to creating the Start Talking Campaign — the tailored, on-the-ground, direct community outreach, education and training  found here and available throughout Illinois, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

    Be Smart. Be Well. is an award-winning website that delivers life-story videos, expert interviews and in-depth articles on a variety of important health topics. With Loveisrespect’s guidance, Be Smart. Be Well. produced a dating abuse video quiz and video-awareness series to help teens and parents recognize the warning signs of abuse.

  • The Curriculum

    The Start Talking curriculum from loveisrespect is an innovative step forward in dating violence prevention education. From peer-led discussions, opportunities for participants to contribute their opinions and loveisrespect’s interactive tools integrated throughout the program, students will have the chance to define relationships in their terms and discover for themselves what it means to have a safe and healthy relationship.


    The Start Talking curriculum consists of ten (10) 40-minute sessions, designed to be implemented either once a week (10 weeks) or twice weekly (5 weeks). We also provide guidelines to increase the session to 60 minutes through extended discussion and activities.

    Sessions 1–6 focus on education, relationship skill development and rich investigations into media influence on teen dating perceptions and the experience of a survivor of abuse.

    Sessions 7–10 challenge participants to pay their knowledge forward by implementing basic service-learning activities designed to spearhead a peer-led awareness movement in your school, program or community.


    • First nationally available healthy relationship web-based instructional program
    • Youth will explore the dynamics of relationships and dating abuse through a pop culture lens, viewing clips from popular television programs and movies (thanks MTV and Lifetime!)
    • Use of loveisrespect’s Relationship Spectrum and interactive quizzes
    • Online observational forms throughout each session allow youth to share their opinions directly with loveisrespect, impacting future programs!

    Activating Youth Leadership

    Loveisrespect recognizes the impact, benefit and necessity of having peers lead this important conversation about healthy relationships. The Start Talking program requires two students to serve as peer leaders –- assisting in implementing activities and discussion during Sessions 1-6 and then taking a leadership role for the remaining sessions as they implement service-learning based advocacy activities.

    Standards and Methodology

    The Start Talking curriculum meets National Health Education Standards as well as individual health and life skill standards for Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The core educational content is based on an evidence-based curriculum as well as new content and activities authored by loveisrespect’s expert staff and consultants. The program was assessed during a significant development and pilot phase.

    Loveisrespect believes young people have to lead the systemic and cultural change needed to end dating abuse. Through their service-learning experience, peer leaders and youth participants will receive an enriching, personal experience with the program.

  • The Toolkit

    Our Start Talking kit is designed to help you start the conversation about healthy relationships and encourage young people to take an active role in creating positive change in their relationships, schools and community.

    Included in the kit:

    • The Start Talking curriculum: a new multiple-session dating-abuse-prevention and service-learning curriculum from loveisrespect, the experts on healthy relationships you know and trust
    • Guides for facilitators and peer leaders
    • Promotional materials: posters, “warning signs” palm cards
    • Additional training may be available
  • Where We’ve Been

    Loveisrespect took Start Talking on the road. Check out our schedule below and see where we’ve taught about building healthy relationships, the curriculum and distributed resources.

    Native Alliance Against Violence

    Tulsa Regional Workshop — The Dynamics of Dating Abuse

    Date: June 3, 2014
    Location: University of Oklahoma Tulsa Learning Center
    Learn more by downloading the event flyer

    Native Alliance Against Violence

    OKC Regional Workshop — The Dynamics of Dating Abuse

    Date: June 4, 2014
    Location: Moore-Norman Tech Center, South Penn Campus
    Learn more by downloading the event flyer

    OCADVSA and Wings of Hope Family Crisis Services

    Start Talking Curriculum Training

    Date: June 5 or 6, 2014
    Location: Teal Room at Public Strategies
    Learn more by downloading the event flyer

    It’s Time Texas

    It’s Time Summit

    Date: June 23-24, 2014
    Location: J.J. Pickle Research Campus
    Learn more at the It’s Time Summit website


    Thanks for Hosting Us!

    Texas Association of Student Councils

    78th Annual High School State Conference

    Date: April 13-15, 2014
    Location: Arlington Convention Center/Sheraton Hotel
    Learn more at TASC’s website

    Envision New Mexico

    Community Resource Fair

    Date: April 29, 2014 from 5:30-7:30
    Location: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
    Learn more by downloading the event flyer

    Head to Toe Conference

    Breakout Session: “Start Talking About Healthy Relationships”

    Date: April 30, 2014 from 10:00-11:00
    Location: Hotel Albuquerque at Old Town
    Learn more at Head to Toe’s website

    Santa Fe Community College

    Healthy Relationships Workshops and Resource Fair

    Date: May 1, 2014, events from 9:00-1:00
    Location: Santa Fe Community College Board Roam (RM 223)
    Learn more by downloading the event flyer

    Los Lunas Schools Graduation Reality & Dual Role Skills (GRADS) Program

    Community Resource Fair

    Date: May 1, 2014 from 4:00-6:00
    Location: School cafeteria at Century High School
    Learn more by downloading the event flyer

    New Mexico Forum for Youth in Community

    Start Talking Training

    Date: May 2, 2014, events from 9:00-5:00
    Location: John Marshall Multi-Service Center

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