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April 2, 2013 > Teens take action to eradicate relationship abuse

Teens take action to eradicate relationship abuse

By Erin Daly

At many Fremont schools, both students and parents focus almost exclusively on academic achievement over other interests, including dating. Teen relationships can sometimes seem incidental. However, many teens are dating and experiencing the highs and lows that can come with first relationships. Those lows might also involve experiencing abuse from a partner. Students at Mission San Jose (MSJ) and Irvington High Schools, concerned about the prevalence of relationship abuse among peers, launched a campaign during February, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, called "Stronger Than You Think" to begin a conversation about relationships - especially the difference between unhealthy and healthy ones.

The "Stronger Than You Think" campaign, made possible through a generous Kaiser Permanente grant, enabled Mission San Jose's Peer Resource group to collaborate with Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE), a Fremont-based anti-domestic violence agency. Students began working on the campaign last year with a T-shirt design contest. The winning design and logo was created by Diane Yang, now a Mission grad. Her simple, uplifting logo and the words "You Are Stronger Than You Think" encourage community support for students experiencing dating abuse by recognizing their inner strength.

Types of relationship abuse may include, but are not limited to, attacking a partner's self-esteem, attempting to isolate him or her from friends and family, and using manipulation to take away a partner's independence. Letting peers know that nobody deserves abuse and everyone is "Stronger Than They Think" promotes the radical concept that everyone has the right to be safe with their loved ones.

Mission San Jose's Peer Resource group hosted a T-shirt Giveaway Day on January 31. A series of "Wear Your Shirt Days" followed the initial Giveaway Day. Other student accomplishments include a Peer Resource-made video about the warning signs of dating violence and the cycle of abuse. Quest students Zuleijma Flores and Marlene Alvarez led awareness efforts at Irvington High School. Zuleijma and Marlene presented SAVE's "Loves Me, Loves Me Not" teen dating violence prevention presentation during an Advisory Period in February. Over 200 students attended and received "Stronger Than You Think" shirts.

SAVE hopes to continue collaborating with Fremont students to develop another campaign next school year. If you or someone you love is suffering from relationship abuse, SAVE offers free crisis intervention, support, and prevention services. For more information, please call SAVE's 24 hour crisis hotline at (510) 794-6055 or visit www.save-dv.org.

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