February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and A Woman’s Place (AWP), Bucks County’s domestic violence agency for over 40 years, is working with area teens and parents throughout the month to raise awareness and craft community solutions to this critical issue.
One in three teens will face emotional, physical, or sexual abuse from an intimate partner before they leave high school, yet studies reveal that two out of three teens will never tell anyone about the abuse. The statistics get more troubling from there: four in five teen girls who have been physically abused in their relationships continue to date their abuser and one in four teens currently in a relationship report having experienced verbal abuse including threats of physical violence. “Abuse thrives in silence and darkness,” says AWP Education and Outreach Manager Jennifer Hinds. “Awareness is about shining a light and raising our voices together to disrupt the culture of abuse in this generation.”
Exciting events to raise funds for Teen Dating Violence Awareness will be taking place throughout the month. Teens from AWP’s Young Adult Advisory Board (YAAB) will be at Jules Pizza in Doylestown on February 1st from 4-8PM, with Jules Pizza agreeing to donate a portion of sales from any patron that mentions they’re attending in support of A Woman’s Place. Then, on February 7th from 4PM to 8PM, Panera Bread in Doylestown will host a similar event. Aspiring artists age 21 and over can join AWP at a BYOB fundraising event at Warrington’s Painting with a Twist on Sunday, February 25th from 2PM to 4PM. Tickets are available through the AWP website and 50% of all proceeds support Teen Dating Violence Awareness.
As in the previous 2 years, the teens themselves will take the lead in raising awareness. Helmed by YAAB, students at Central Bucks East and West High Schools will ask their peers to sign healthy relationship pledges, promising not only to practice respect and love in their own relationships, but to be on watch to support their friends as well. Over 500 students signed last year.
“This issue does not get nearly enough attention” said Jess Morse, AWP teen volunteer for nearly two years. “This organization has done so much for me [and] my entire experience here has been so empowering. That’s why I’m so excited to help run the Teen Dating Violence Awareness month campaign at [Central Bucks] East!”
It will be a colorful month of advocacy. Both C.B. East and West will hold “purple out” basketball games in which players and fans wear purple - the official color of A Woman’s Place and Domestic Violence Awareness, and teens across the county will take part in Wear Orange Day on Tuesday, February 13 as Orange is the official color of National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Participants are encouraged to post pictures and updates on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #Orange4Love.
At every scheduled event, as well as in the schools and at AWP offices, teens and adults alike will be invited to share their inspiring messages, advice, and ideas about teen dating violence on a length of orange ribbon. These lengths of ribbon will be collected throughout the month and tied to the large tree outside of AWP’s administrative offices in Doylestown to serve as a symbol of Bucks County’s commitment to ending the culture of dating violence. AWP will feature progress photos of this take on the traditional “Wishing Tree” throughout the month.
AWP’s blog and social media feed will also be taken over by teens sharing their advice and experiences with dating abuse. Throughout the month inspiring messages and artwork from parents and teens will be posted on AWP’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. AWP provides healthy relationship education to students in 11 of 13 school districts in Bucks County, reaching nearly 6,000 students annually. To support community education and outreach efforts, attend an event in February or visit www.awomansplace.org.
A Woman’s Place is the only domestic violence community benefit organization in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. A Woman’s Place has provided free, private, confidential, and comprehensive shelter, service, support, advocacy, outreach, training, and education to victims of domestic violence, their children, and the community for 40 years. The free, private, and confidential hotline (1-800-220-8116) is available 24-hours a day. Information about A Woman’s Place, domestic violence, and how to get involved with the organization can be found at www.awomansplace.org.
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