TDVAM: Stories of Youth Leaders [Audio & Text]
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month! Did you know that as many as 1 out of 3 high school students will experience dating violence in a relationship before they graduate? It is critical to the safety and well-being of our youth, as well as our communities, to talk about what a healthy relationship looks like.
Listen to the experiences of two Youth Leaders who have taken the education and tools they’ve received and brought it back to their peers, families, schools, and communities.
Leslie, Senior at Migues Contreras Learning Complex
I first heard of Peace Over Violence when I was a Freshman and now I’m a Senior. This has been an adventure for me, because at the beginning, I was new to most of the stuff; I didn’t know, like, what was going on, or I didn’t know how it affected us. About Teen Dating Violence, or any type of violence in general. I just thought – when I heard violence – I just thought it was gonna be something physical, but it’s actually more to that like emotional or mental. That opened my mind to so many things and it has helped me grow as a person, because like I mentioned before, I was shy; I didn’t like talking to people at all. And I was just like, I really enjoy doing presentations – like talking about what we do. I like talking about what stuff affects us as teenagers or like as a community and what we could do to fix things like that.
It helps you a lot in your life. You get to learn a lot of things that you sometimes don’t imagine as happening around the world. Violence is going on and it’s important for teenagers to know, especially because some people play around – like it’s a joke, but other people might take it a different way. There’s been situations or jokes that turns into bullying someone, and it’s just something terrible that happens after that. So I think it is important to talk about – the importance of respecting each other and getting respect from other people as well.
I feel that I enjoy talking to people. I enjoy talking about the program, what we do here, what we learn. It doesn’t only stay here in the program or in school, but I bring it to my house and with my friends. My mom was going through certain things and so was I and that made me realize that that relationship – it wasn’t good for me at all. So it was a toxic relationship and I had to let it go, and I did. So after that happened, I noticed that I didn’t feel pressure, or I didn’t feel stress about anything anymore. So that helped me out and my mom was going through certain stuff as well, and she kind of figured something out to work with her partner, so I’m glad that happened.
Alexis, Freshman at UCLA
So I actually started my connection with Peace Over Violence through the In Touch With Teens Curriculum at my school, Miguel Contreras. We learned different ways to prevent violence. When we were in the POV class, we had to go do presentations. I remember once asking, “do you guys know what consent is?” and nobody knew what that was. And we asked them if they knew what Denim Day was, and they said they had heard of it before, but they didn’t know exactly what it was. So, we kind of educated them about it, and then Denim Day comes around and the students that still don’t know about it, that day itself served as a tool to educate the other students on our campus and I know for sure afterwards, they knew was Denim Day was and what it stood for and what it meant to a lot of people around the world.
Last year, we were able to host our own Fashion Show at our campus. We had different volunteers walk down the runway with their own denim, and they held a sign with a quote of theirs that they came up with, like, “Not on my campus,” or something like that, or showing support for Denim Day. I myself, I went to City Hall and I was able to share a speech of mine.
We want students to feel comfortable and take pride in wearing their Denim, no matter how tight or loose it may be, because the clothes you wear should never be taken as an invitation for sexual assault, abuse, harassment, nor nonetheless, rape. I’m here to say, that we do not tolerate sexual violence on our campus, not in our homes, not in our communities and not ever in society.