This month's post is a guest blog and was written by Emily Schreck, an intern at Tikkun Olam Women's Foundation. Emily is a sophomore at the University of Maryland and is studying Family Sciences and Women’s Studies. This post originally appeared online at http://towf.org/blog/. The Tikkun Olam Women's Foundation provides a generous grant to support the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse's teen dating abuse prevention initiative, AWARE®. "It's Not Love" is the cornerstone workshop of AWARE®.
It was a typical Saturday night and I was headed to my BBYO program. I pulled up in my car and quickly made my way inside. I had entered our chapter’s annual Kallah, a weekend full of Jewish programming to strengthen my chapter’s sisterhood and leadership skills. As a past president of my chapter, I had read the outline of the programs, but did not really know what to expect until I was immersed in the programming.
When I walked in, just a bit late, my friends were already intently listening to a representative from the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA). The woman introduced herself and the program that we were participating in called “It’s Not Love,” developed by JCADA. I knew the woman had caught their attention because it was rare that the room would be that quiet. She explained that “It’s Not Love” is based on the concept that if you educate teenage girls about healthy relationships, then abusive relationships in the future can be avoided. Through “It’s Not Love,” JCADA is working to “raise a generation of strong, confident women who will not accept violence in their lives nor in the Jewish
Emily and her chapter in their chapter spirit wear.
community.” This generation will also be able to recognize the warning signs with friends or family and be able to share the resources they were introduced to during the program. The specific program is geared towards the age group and “is a choose-your-own-path workshop” in which participants assume the role of a character who is either in an abusive relationship or a witness to one.
I am grateful that I have not personally, nor have any of my close friends, faced dating violence. Although I have been this lucky, many have not. Recently I read the story of 18-year-old Lauren Dunne Astley, whose life was taken abruptly by her abusive ex-boyfriend. The story was hard for me to read. Among indecisive teenagers, break-ups are relativity common. But, they should end with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream and a dramatic reality TV show, not the death of one of the parties involved. In her honor, Lauren’s parents recently pleaded to the Massachusetts state legislators that education is the key to the prevention of teen dating violence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10% of teenagers experience some form of violence their in dating relationships. That means in a high school classroom of about thirty students, more than three of them have been abused by a partner. As the CDC reports, dating violence can been seen in many different forms including, but not limited to emotional, physical and sexual abuse. This violence can lead to depression, drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts, poor performance in school, eating disorders, future abuse and even death in extreme cases such as Lauren Dunne Astley’s. It has been argued that solutions to this issue can be found in educational programs such as “It’s Not Love.”
With grants from Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation, “It’s Not Love” has reached more than 2,100 different students in the D.C. Metro Area. Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation’s mission is to fund organizations who “create social change for women and girls,” through grant-making. With the generous grants awarded to JCADA from TOWF, they have been able to develop “It’s Not Love,” in order to education young women about dating violence. Young women and girls, like myself and my friends at BBYO, will learn what is acceptable and what is not in a dating relationship. Women and girls will learn that teddy bears should be given as happy day gifts and break-ups should include Ice Cream induced tummy aches.
Allen, Evan. “For Grieving Parents, Education the Key.” BostonGlobe.com. N.p., 15 May 2013. Web. 13 June 2013.
“Aware: It’s Not Love.” AWARE. Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse, n.d. Web. 13 June 2013.
“When Teen Dating Turns Abusive and Violent.” US News. U.S.News & World Report, 10 May 2013. Web. 13 June 2013.