In February 2010 Congress declared the month National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This year in President Obama's Presidential Proclamation he stated that, "each year, 1 in 10 American teenagers suffers physical violence at the hands of a boyfriend or girlfriend, and many others are sexually or emotionally abused."
I was 17 when I began a relationship that nearly ended with me losing my life. I knew nothing about dating violence, manipulation, and control but somehow I found myself entangled in this web of madness for years. I was not aware of any help lines, survivor programs, or any other teens going through the same things that I did.
1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime and of that group, 1 in 5 will first experience it between the ages of 11 and 17.
Just days before the 2011 new year the relationship ended and I literally found myself in a fight for my life. A few days after that, the same person decided they would retaliate by trying to end my mother's life.
Somewhere in between one of my many therapy sessions and visiting my mother in the hospital I decided that my tragedy would not be in vain.
I have my life; I have a voice, therefore I have a mission.
I have participated in major magazine articles campaigns against dating violence, symposiums, conferences, panels, walks, daytime television shows, documentaries and a number of other awareness projects. And yes, I still feel the need to share my story, my knowledge, and my experiences.
Last year at a workshop I was in a room of approximately 100 people (mainly social workers), with the majority of them being women. I stood before them to give a survivors testimony and at the end of the conference I had a bunch of secret survivors share their stories with me. I have come to the conclusion that the 1 in 4 statistic is more like 1 in 2.
No more turning a blind eye, or thinking out of sight, out of mind. Help me educate others and raise awareness to this preventable social ill.