My first memory in life is of my mother holding me up as a human shield to get my dad to stop beating her. I was just 2-years-old. I later learned that both of my parents grew up in homes where domestic violence was the norm. Now my goal is to make respect the status quo.
Today, 15.5 million children in the United States live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year. And 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner. Rihanna is not alone.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. And it comes at time when counties and states around the country are being forced to cut domestic violence services or shut their doors all together. Down the line the collateral damage will be huge: more crime, more health problems, more missed work, more teen pregnancies, more young people locked up instead of flourishing.
As part of the movement to end domestic violence, my social venture (Respect Rx) is offering one of our signature workshop sessions, The Respect Basics, to teen advocates for free. You can use the leader's guide for this 60-minute session to help teens explore how to use the Respect Basics in their own lives, relationships and, ultimately, to break the cycle of disrespect.
We hope this session will strengthen your domestic and dating violence prevention programs by showing teens that no matter what form of disrespect they're struggling with, respect is the remedy. You can click here to download the free workshop.
With teen dating violence on the rise, and incidents of domestic violence spiking, now more than ever is the time to teach teens how to Get Help (a Respect Basic). And we need to make sure the help is there when they ask by investing more, not less, in local prevention and support services and by reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in 2011. We can't afford the alternatives.