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National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

43% of Dating College Women Have Experienced Violent and Abusive Dating Behaviors

A new survey reveals dating violence and abuse to be surprisingly more prevalent among college students than previously believed. Nearly half of dating college women (43%) report having ever experienced violent or abusive dating behaviors, and more than one in five (22%) report actual physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of physical violence. Despite the high number of students experiencing these types of abuse, more than one-third of college students (38%) say they would not know how to get help on campus if they found themselves in an abusive relationship.

The survey, “Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll,” was conducted by Knowledge Networks to address the lack of data on dating violence and abuse among college students and to increase the understanding of this problem on college campuses nationwide.

According to dating violence expert, Dr. Karen Singleton, Director of Sexual Violence Response, a program of Columbia University Health Services, “This survey expands on earlier reports and reinforces the complexity of the issue.” Among the findings are:

  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) college women report having been a victim of an abusive dating relationship in her life.
  • 57% of students who report having been in an abusive dating relationship indicate it occurred in college.
  • 52% of college women report knowing a friend who has experienced violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, digital, verbal or controlling abuse.
  • Further, 58% of students said they would not know how to help if they knew someone was a victim.

“The findings of this survey prove that colleges and universities need to provide a more comprehensive response and additional creative educational programs to address dating violence and abuse,” said Jane Randel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Liz Claiborne Inc.

The survey findings were released today, during a forum to educate students about sexual assault prevention and survivor assistance at American University.

The full report of survey results can be found at www.loveisnotabuse.com.

National Dating Abuse Helpline and Break the Cycle Respond to the Urgent Need for Education

In direct response to these new findings, www.loveisrespect.org, a partnership between the National Dating Abuse Helpline and leading teen dating violence prevention organization, Break the Cycle, is launching an initiative to target college students with new, relevant resources to address the issue of dating abuse.

The expanded online content includes: Take Action (information on how students can get involved on their campus), Stay Safe (safety planning designed specifically for college students) and Help a Friend (information to assist bystanders). The survey shows that 57% of college students say it is difficult to identify dating abuse – substantive evidence of the need for increased education and awareness.

“It is our hope that with these targeted college resources, we can help increase knowledge about how students can combat the issue and ultimately, help prevent the prevalence of dating abuse and violence among students,” said President of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and National Dating Abuse Helpline, Katie-Ray Jones.

The resources are available, free online at www.loveisrespect.org.

In addition, Liz Claiborne Inc. has created a college dating violence curriculum called Love Is Not Abuse, designed to help students deal with dating violence and abuse on campus. The first college curriculum of its kind, Love Is Not Abuse educates students about the dangers and warning signs of dating violence, offers lessons specifically on abuse via technology and provides resources where college students can find help on campus.

The Love Is Not Abuse curriculum was created by a task force consisting of educators and domestic and sexual violence experts from Columbia University, George Mason University, the University of Kansas, Virginia Community College System, Northern Virginia Community College and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) following the May 2010 murder of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love.

The Love Is Not Abuse college curriculum is available online, free at www.loveisnotabuse.com/web/guest/curriculum.

Survey Methodology

Liz Claiborne Inc. commissioned Knowledge Networks to conduct quantitative research among students enrolled in four-year colleges (ages 18 – 29). The sample for this study came from the Knowledge Networks probability-based online panel, KnowledgePanel®. Online data collection took place between September 29 to December 27, 2010. A total of 508 college students (330 women and 178 men) were surveyed.  The final sample was weighted using the Census Bureau school enrollment benchmarks for age, gender, race/ethnicity and geographic region based on the October 2009 Supplement of the Current Population Survey. It is statistically representative of all 18-29 year-old college students in the United States, with a margin of sampling error of ± 5.4 percentage points.

About Liz Claiborne Inc.

Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc. has been working to end domestic violence. Through its Love Is Not Abuse program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic. Visit them at www.loveisnotabuse.com.

About loveisrespect.org

Loveisrespect.org is a collaboration between Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline. Combining resources and capacity, together they are reaching more people, building more healthy relationships and saving more lives. Loveisrespect.org is designed to:

  • Create the ultimate resource fostering healthy dating attitudes and relationships.
  • Provide a safe space for young people to access information and help in an environment that is designed specifically for them.
  • Ensure confidentiality and trust so young people feel safe and supported—online and off.

Loveisrespect.org is the ultimate resource to engage, educate and empower youth and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships.

About the National Dating Abuse Helpline

The National Dating Abuse Helpline is the direct service provider behind loveisrespect.org, operating the phone and chat services. The Helpline, originally known as “loveisrespect.org, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline,” was launched in February 2007 with help from founding sponsor, Liz Claiborne Inc. It is a national, 24-hour resource specifically designed for teens and young adults. Accessible by phone or internet, the National Dating Abuse Helpline operates from a call center in Austin, Texas.

The Helpline offers real-time one-on-one support from peer advocates. They train these young leaders to offer support, information and advocacy to those involved in dating abuse relationships as well as concerned parents, teachers, clergy, law enforcement and service providers.

About Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle engages, educates and empowers youth to build lives and communities free from domestic and dating violence. Break the Cycle believes everybody has the right to safe and healthy relationships. Whether it’s teaching young people about the warning signs of abuse, safety planning or how to navigate the legal system, Break the Cycle gives teens and young adults the tools they need to live safer, healthier lives. Each year, Break the Cycle reaches more than one million youth nationwide. Visit them at www.breakthecycle.org.

PRESS CONTACT:

Amy C. Terpeluk
Tel.: (212) 583-2792
Cell: (917) 826-2326
terpeluka@ruderfinn.com

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

New Partnership Launches Ultimate Healthy Relationship Resource

Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline announced today that they are joining forces to create a powerful and comprehensive online destination to engage, educate and empower teens and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships: loveisrespect.org.

Break the Cycle has provided training, education, online resources, advocacy and activism for teens and young adults for over 15 years.  The National Dating Abuse Helpline first started taking online chats and calls in February 2007. With these two groups joining forces, teens and young adults will have one comprehensive site that gives them resources, articles, chats and all the information they need to make informed decisions about their relationships.

Loveisrespect.org posted a video that talks more about the partnership or you can read the press release for more information.

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New Partnership Launches Ultimate Healthy Relationship Resource

Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline, the Two Most Respected Dating Violence Advocates, Join Forces to Create the Most Powerful Online Healthy-Dating Resource for Teens and Young Adults in the United States, loveisrespect.org

Feb. 8, 2011 – Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline, a project of the National Council on Family Violence, are joining forces to create the most comprehensive online destination to engage, educate and empower teens and young adults to prevent and end abusive relationships–loveisrespect.org.

Break the Cycle is the nation’s leading organization addressing dating abuse with more than 15 years of providing training, education, online resources, advocacy and activism. The National Dating Abuse Helpline provides the only peer-to-peer online chat in the country where trained advocates give advice to other teens and young adults.

Teen dating violence is an urgent, silent epidemic. One in three teens will experience abuse in a dating relationship and more than two-thirds of them will never report it to anyone.

“Break the Cycle’s extensive experience serving teens and young adults, in collaboration with the National Dating Abuse Helpline’s one of a kind chat service offers a new nationwide response to dating violence,” said Marjorie Gilberg, Executive Director of Break the Cycle. “This revolutionary partnership will establish loveisrespect.org as the ultimate online source of help and information for teens and young adults.”

“We are thrilled to launch this innovative partnership and project,” said Dyanne Purcell, CEO of the National Dating Abuse Helpline and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. “Partnering with Break the Cycle will broaden and enhance services and resources available for the thousands of teens and young adults who contact us at loveisrepect.org.”

A National Advisory Board composed of a diverse group of youth and culturally specific service providers will enhance the partnership by providing feedback on how to best serve teens and young adults.

Loveisrespect.org will help teens and young adults, ages 12-24 navigate the spectrum of healthy relationship behaviors. Young people will learn there are options, answers and support available to them every hour of every day. Break the Cycle and the National Dating Abuse Helpline are designing the site specifically for young people, emphasizing confidentiality and trust to ensure teens nationwide feel safe and supported – online and off.

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About National Dating Abuse Helpline

The National Council on Family Violence launched the National Dating Abuse Helpline in 2007 with funding from Liz Claiborne, Inc. and serves as an innovative source of support and resources for teens and young adults involved in abusive dating relationships, their peers, parents, teachers and friends. The Helpline offers services to young people across the country who are experiencing dating abuse and are seeking to engage in healthy relationships by utilizing the technologies they use most often: web, chat and telephone. Young men and women can anonymously contact trained peer-to-peer advocates by telephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-866-331-9474 or online via live chat at www.loveisrespect.org.

About Break the Cycle

Break the Cycle believes everyone has the right to safe and healthy relationships. As the leading voice for teens on the issue of dating violence, Break the Cycle advocates for policy and legislative changes that will better protect the rights and promote the health of teens nationwide. Engaging, educating and empowering youth through prevention and intervention programs, Break the Cycle helps young people identify and build healthy relationships. For more information, please visit www.breakthecycle.org or call 310-286-3383.

Contact: Susan Risdon at 214-226-6741 or susan@redmediagroup.com

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

It’s Time to Talk: Awareness Day Brings Much Needed Attention to Domestic Violence

Every year, Liz Claiborne Inc. holds a media day called It’s Time to Talk Day. The day includes opportunities for print and radio outlets to generate a dialogue about domestic violence. Last year, the event was held in New York City on December 8 at the Liz Claiborne headquarters, where showrooms were transformed into “Talk Radio Row,” allowing talk shows hosts to broadcast programs throughout the day with special guests from various domestic violence organizations, corporations and foundations.

Two advocates from The Hotline and loveisrespect attended the events and participated in the Radio Row interviews to bring awareness to the issue and to ensure that people know there is a place to call for help. In addition to advocates speaking out, celebrities such as Tim Gunn and actress Stephanie March took part in the 7th annual It’s Time to Talk Day.

A special screening of the documentary “Telling Amy’s Story” was held prior to ITTTD as a kick-off of the day. Our advocates who attended share their recollections of the event:

From Melissa Kaufman, Volunteer and Training Coordinator for The Hotline and loveisrespect

Our whirlwind trip to New York City started with a viewing of “Telling Amy’s Story,” the documentary from Verizon which follows the timeline of a domestic violence homicide that occurred on November 8, 2001. The viewing was emceed by the co-host of the Today show, Meredith Vieira, and we were able to visit with Meredith and a few others before entering the theater to watch the film.

After the movie was over, we exited the theater into the freezing cold NYC night and walked back to our hotel to get some rest before our next adventure. The following morning, we woke up at 5 a.m., got ready and walked to the Liz Claiborne headquarters for the annual It’s Time to Talk Day. The only people out that early with us on our walk were the street vendors preparing for the day and delivery drivers. We spent the next three hours at Liz Claiborne talking to advocates and experts in the domestic violence field and conducting interviews with a panel of radio hosts and bloggers. It was pretty exciting to be surrounded by the amazing women and men who are doing such tremendous work around teen dating abuse and domestic violence.

So much awareness still needs to be raised around this issue and I hope our time there helped spread the word about the help that is out there for victims at The Hotline and loveisrespect.

From Diane Perez, Hotline Advocate

This year, I had the great opportunity to attend the Liz Claiborne’s It’s Time to Talk Day, which started with a screening of “Telling Amy’s Story” the evening before. I had already seen the documentary but regardless how many times you see it, it’s still just as powerful each time. Meredith Vieira with NBC’s Today emceed the screening, and shared with everyone there that she was a survivor of domestic violence in her college years. I thought it took a lot of courage to tell her story because with domestic violence there is always a lot of shame involved. Meredith sharing her story was powerful because it really speaks to the reality that domestic violence does not discriminate against anyone from any background, and that domestic violence is not just a poor community issue but that it is an epidemic in our country. The next day at the It’s Time to Talk Day event was just as powerful with so many people involved in sharing their voices and speaking up about domestic violence.

Information is power and as long as we keep educating and speaking out, we can shine a light on something that can often times be very isolating and lonely.

To learn more about It’s Time to Talk Day, please watch the video below.

It’s Time to Talk Day from Elizabeth Davies on Vimeo.

Photos from the event:


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National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month and this dangerous and unpredictable crime is often seen in domestic violence situations. Three in four victims are stalked by someone they know and more than 3.4 million adults are stalked each year in the United States.

The theme for the 8th annual observation of this awareness month is “Stalking: Know It. Name It. Stop It.” which encourages people to learn what constitutes as stalking, recognize it when it happens, and put an end to it. Stalking is defined as a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.

Those who are victims of stalking sometimes suffer in silence. They have anxiety, social dysfunction and severe depression at much higher rates than the general population. Stalking also affects their ability to go to school or work. Stalkers often use technology to track their victims. They install spyware on computers and use global positioning systems on cell phones.

This January, learn more about stalking and how you can help spread awareness of this crime in your community. For more information, please visit the Stalking Resource Center.

Parents, if you need help talking to your teen about stalking or you worry that they are currently being stalked, please direct them to a post by loveisrespect on the issue.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

National Coalition Responds to Recent Tragic Death of University of Virginia Student Yeardley Love

Parents of murdered dating violence victims, advocates and legislators are uniting to fight for education to prevent dating violence. The recent tragic death of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love has brought attention to the need for teen dating violence education legislation. loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, Seventeen Magazine and the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) are joining forces through Liz Claiborne Inc.’s MADE – Moms and Dads for Education to Stop Teen Dating Abuse – to ensure every middle school and high school in every state across the country teaches a curriculum about preventing dating relationship violence and abuse each year. Currently, only four states, Rhode Island, Texas, Ohio and Nebraska, have passed strong laws requiring school districts to have a dating violence policy to address incidents of dating violence at school. Please click here to read the full press release. News coverage of the tragic event is available at  ABC.com.

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Parents of Murdered Dating Violence Victims, Advocates and Legislators Unite To Fight For Education To Prevent Dating Violence

National coalition responds to recent tragic death of University of Virginia student Yeardley Love and urges parents to push for teen dating violence education legislation

New York, NY – May 5, 2010 – Today, advocates for teen dating violence education are calling on parents nationwide to take action and urge potentially life-saving legislation mandating teen dating violence education be required in their states. The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, loveisrespect.org, Seventeen Magazine and the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL) are joining forces through Liz Claiborne Inc.’s ‘MADE’ — Moms and Dads for Education to Stop Teen Dating Abuse — to ensure that every middle school and high school in every state across the country teach a curriculum about preventing dating relationship violence and abuse each year.

Currently, only four states, Rhode Island, Texas, Ohio and Nebraska, have passed strong laws requiring school districts to have a dating violence policy to address incidents of dating violence at school. Just last week, Florida legislation successfully passed that calls for teen dating violence education to be included in health curriculum for 7th-12th graders and for school district boards to adopt and implement teen dating violence policies.  Legislation is pending in ten additional states where NFWL’s women legislators and MADE advocates have been working together, but only a handful of those legislative bills are considered comprehensive, mandating updated curriculums and teen dating violence education policies.

Across the country, parents who have tragically lost their children to dating violence are making their voices heard and pushing for legislation which has been stalled or has not even been introduced in their states. Ann and Chris Burke, educators and parents of Lindsay Ann Burke who was murdered by her abusive ex-boyfriend, spearheaded efforts in Rhode Island to pass the “Lindsay Ann Burke Act.” Gary Cuccia in Pennsylvania is actively fighting for the “Demi Brae Cuccia Act” which is awaiting a vote in the Senate and Bill and Michele Mitchell in Maryland have been working tirelessly to strengthen the policies in House Bill 845, “Tween and Teen Dating Violence Education.” Women legislators are supporting these parents.

“It is time for all parents to make the commitment and address teen dating violence as a serious health issue,” said Ann Burke.  “I want to show all parents and teachers that having legislation passed is possible. I want to see teens in all 50 states educated on this issue.”

“Education is the key to preventing teen dating violence,” said Sheryl Cates, CEO of loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. “Parents, friends and family members need to be aware of the warning signs of an abusive dating relationship and know where to turn for resources and help before the violence escalates to a fatal incident. Controlling behavior, verbal and emotional abuse, threatening texts and emails, isolation, hitting, pushing and slapping are all warning signs of a troubled relationship.”

“It is only through education and awareness that we will be able to combat teen dating violence and our elected women who have introduced bills are 100% committed to fighting for strong and effective legislation that will protect the teens and tweens they serve and honor the memories of the young victims who had no idea what teen dating violence was before they lost their lives to it,” stated Robin Read, NFWL’s President and CEO.

“Our recent survey shows that although 75% of teens who have been taught about dating abuse say it has helped them recognize the signs of abuse, only a quarter of the teens have ever taken an actual course,” said Jane Randel, Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications for Liz Claiborne Inc. “In the wake of so many recent tragedies, it is becoming increasingly clear that something needs to be done – and that something is education. Curricula, such as Love Is Not Abuse, teach young adults to recognize the signs of abuse and how to seek help – whether they are victims themselves or watching someone else suffer. Teaching these lessons in our schools will save lives.”

“The statistics of girls in abusive relationships are shocking: 23% of our readers have dated a guy who has made them feel afraid, and 70% of girls say that they wouldn’t break up with an abusive boyfriend if they loved him,” said Ann Shoket, Editor-in-Chief, Seventeen Magazine. “Yeardley’s tragic death should be a wake up call to all girls that they need to learn how to recognize the warning signs of a dangerous relationship before they get hurt.” A few warning signs include, he gets angry when guys give you attention or when you want to do things without him; he says it’s your fault when he says hurtful things to you and he tries to control where you go, or what you wear or do.
About Loveisrespect
National Domestic Violence Hotline launched loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline in 2007, to serve as a source of support and resources for teens involved in dating abuse relationships, their peers, parents, teachers, and friends. loveisrespect offers new and innovative services to teens across the country who are experiencing dating abuse and those who are looking to engage in healthy relationships by utilizing technologies that teens use most often: the telephone, web, and chat. Young men and women can anonymously contact trained peer-to-peer advocates by telephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. at 1-866-331-9474 or www.loveisrespect.org to chat (IM style).

About the National Foundation For Women Legislators, Inc. (NFWL)
Through annual educational and networking events, the National Foundation for Women Legislators supports women legislators from all levels of governance.   As a non-profit, non-partisan organization, NFWL does not take ideological positions on public policy issues, but rather serves as a forum for women legislators to be empowered through information and experience.

About Liz Claiborne Inc.
Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc has been working to end domestic violence. Through its Love Is Not Abuse program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic. www.loveisnotabuse.com.

Seventeen
Seventeen (www.seventeen.com) is the best-selling monthly teen magazine, reaching more than 13 million readers every month. In each issue, Seventeen reports on the latest in fashion, beauty, health and entertainment, as well as information and advice on the complex real-life issues that young women face every day. Readers can also interact with the brand on the digital front, with Seventeen mobile (m.seventeen.com). In addition to its U.S. flagship, Seventeen publishes 13 editions around the world. Seventeen is published by Hearst Magazines, a unit of Hearst Corporation (www.hearst.com) and one of the world’s largest publishers of monthly magazines, with nearly 200 editions around the world, including 15 U.S. titles and 20 magazines in the United Kingdom, published through its wholly owned subsidiary, The National Magazine Company Limited. Hearst Magazines is the leading publisher of monthly magazines in the U.S. in terms of total circulation (ABC, Dec. 2009) and reaches 73 million adults (MRI, Fall 2009).
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PRESS CONTACT:
Susan Risdon
Tel: (512) 492-2405
redmedia@ndvh.org

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

logo-01February has been designated as Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. In the past Congress had designated the first full week of February as a prevention week and this is the first year that a whole month is dedicated to prevention efforts. loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline has put together a comprehensive resources page specially created for this month’s awareness efforts. Please click here for more information and for ways you could do your part this month.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Katie Couric Addresses Escalating Violence Seen In Teen Relationships

ndvh_logo_webCBS Evening News with Katie Couric covered a crucial issue last night, the alarming number of American teenagers experiencing abusive relationships. This dilemma is reflected in the 600 percent increase of calls and chats to loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline since 2007. The CBS news crew was able to get a first hand glimpse during their visit to loveisrespect where they observed peer advocates during staged calls and chats.

Technology has made abuse easier than ever, allowing perpetrators to employ new mediums such as cell phones, email and social networking websites to control their partners. Sheryl Cates, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect, weighed in on the issue during the program and stated that technology has changed the dynamics of abuse. Please visit cbsnews.com to read the full story or click here to view the entire broadcast.


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National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

It’s Time to Talk Day Encourages Greater Public Dialogue About Domestic Violence

It's_TIme_to_Talk_logo_squareLiz Claiborne Inc. is launching its sixth annual It’s Time to Talk Day on December 3. This day will be dedicated to encouraging Americans to speak-up about domestic violence. Individuals around the country will engage in conversations about the issue including government officials, talk radio, domestic violence advocates, businesses, schools and the general public.

Liz Claiborne Inc., will partner with experts in the field including MTV, loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, Seventeen, Talk Radio News Service, Joyful Heart Foundation and more. Please visit loveisnotabuse.org  for more information or for ideas on ways to get involved.

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Julie Stevenson (far right), is Chair of the annual “A Day to Shine” fundraiser benefitting loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. She will be participating in It’s Time to Talk events today. Also pictured and participating in events are National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline CEO Sheryl Cates (far left) and Judge Jeanine Pirro (center).

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Dating Abuse

The following blog entry was written by Emily Toothman. She graduated from The University of Texas in 2005.  She is now 26 years old, working as a Program Specialist at The National Domestic Violence Hotline.  In February of 2007, she had the honor of answering the first call to the loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.

I was 19, a student in my second year at college, when I met the man of my dreams in one of my classes.  He was tall, blonde, blue-eyed, and All-American — with a smooth demeanor and a knack for saying all the right things.  He treated me like a princess.  Gifts, surprise visits to my dorm room and classes, frequent phone calls to see where I was and how I was doing.  He told me he loved me within the first month of our relationship, and he wanted to be near me all the time.  On our first anniversary, he surprised me with a candlelit dinner in a house overlooking the lake.  I was living the fairy tale that every little girl is taught to dream.

But then, two weeks after our first anniversary, I found him in bed with an ex-girlfriend.  I immediately broke up with him.  It was only then that I began to truly see his controlling nature.

I started to see him everywhere I went.  He showed up to my classes and sat two rows behind me.  I caught glimpses of him walking a couple paces behind me on campus.  Pretty soon, he started calling my cell phone constantly, leaving up to twenty voice messages a day begging me to reconsider our relationship.  When I started hanging out with other guys, he would follow me and leave threatening notes under the windshield wipers on my car.  My professors started to confide in me that “my boyfriend” had told them about my “drug problem.”

I returned home one evening after going to a meeting on campus, and he was on my doorstep.  He was drunk, and he was angry.  As his anger escalated, he began to shove me around and pin me by my neck against my front door, smashing empty beer bottles against the corner of the building and holding the shattered glass up to my face.  He had simply snapped.  I escaped to a friend’s house an hour later with a broken rib, a sprained wrist, a black eye, and bruises from head to toe.

Following the first attack, I took some self-defense lessons from a friend of mine who was a black-belt in karate.  I stayed with some friends so that I didn’t have to go back to my apartment alone.  I felt like everyone was looking at me, even though I had carefully caked on make-up to cover the bruises.  It took me days to build up the courage to leave the apartment to go to class.  I was terrified, and I felt more alone than ever.  Though I have always been close to my parents, I refused to tell them.  I felt that they would be hurt, worried – or worse – disappointed in how I’d handled the situation.   My friends, though they tried to be supportive, had a hard time even believing what was happening.

A week later, he confronted me again.  This time, he was sober, and it was in broad daylight in the center of campus.  He once again pinned me to the wall, but this time he threatened me with a butterfly knife to my jugular.  Students would walk by and stare, but not one interfered.  I struggled with him for close to a quarter of an hour, and finally, I managed to kick his knee backwards.  It broke.  As he was writhing on the ground, I used my cell phone to call the police.  A week later, he would break bail and leave the country.  I would never see him again.

The experience did change me – sometimes for the worse, but (I hope) mostly for the better.  I had to struggle with fear, anger, depression, insomnia, and even nausea.  I had to mend the breach of trust that my parents felt when they found out about my situation after the fact.  I’ve had to fight to break down my defensive walls, so that I could be less guarded in my romantic relationships and less cautious in my friendships.  It has not been easy.

But — to be completely honest with you – I wouldn’t change a moment of my experience for anything in the world.  It shook me to the core.  It created a passion in me for justice and peace, and it led me down a path that I would have never expected.  It led me here, to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  I will always remember, with the highest gratitude, the role that my experience has allowed me to play in reaching out to survivors.

Dating abuse is a reality for many, many teens across this country — a terrifying, overwhelming reality that is largely hidden and ignored.  I wish that I had known at the time what I know now, thanks to the work of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: I am not alone.  I am not the only one to have experienced what I experienced, and I am not the only one who has decided to turn those experiences into positive changes for others like me.  I am very honored to be a part of such an amazing generation of young people who will start the conversation about dating abuse, and who will change the realities of young people across the nation.

By Emily Toothman

Please visit loveisrespect.org  for resources on teen dating abuse or to chat with a peer advocate. If chat is unavailable, call 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453 TTY. loveisrespect has recently been called on for its expert guidance by the popular soap opera General Hospital for a teen dating abuse storyline. The storyline will air today, Friday July 17th and a PSA will air directly following the program.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Vice President Joe Biden Visits the Hotline

joe-bidenVice President Joe Biden made a visit to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline on Tuesday April 28, 2009 for a press event and tour of the facilities. This was his second visit to the organizations in six years. The Office on Violence Against Women Acting Director Catherine Pierce and Austin Mayor Will Wynn joined the Vice President at this event.

Vice President Joe Biden’s support for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and his vision for safe families has been unwavering. Biden is the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA). The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established in 1996 as a component of VAWA passed by Congress.

VAWA changed the way law enforcement and the legal system handled domestic violence cases. VAWA provided $1.6 billion to enhance investigation and prosecution of the violent crime perpetrated against women, increased pre-trial detention of the accused and imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted. Biden also helped accomplish the reauthorization of the Act in 2005.

Nearly six years ago, Senator Biden recruited a core group of the nation’s leading technology companies to visit the Hotline and listen first-hand to crisis calls. The result of Biden’s first visit to the Hotline was a $2.7 million plan to replace existing technology with new systems integrating telephone technology with new computer and database technology. The advanced technology has helped save the lives of thousands of women, children and families.