Bucks County Herald

A Woman’s Place shines spotlight on teen dating violence

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,” said 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.”

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) were at Jules Pizza in Doylestown on Feb. 1.; Jules Pizza donated a portion of sales from patrons who mentioned they were attending in support of A Woman’s Place. From 4 to 8 p.m. Feb. 7, Panera Bread in Doylestown hosted a similar event. Aspiring artists age 21 and over can join AWP at a BYOB fundraising event at Warrington’s Painting with a Twist 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25.

Tickets are available through the AWP website and 50 percent of all proceeds support Teen Dating Violence Awareness.

As in the previous two 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. More than 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 CB 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, Feb. 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 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 awomansplace.org.

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