October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Spotlight on Teens

As I think about October being Domestic Violence month, I realize that I have spent 19 years bringing the issue of domestic abuse to the forefront in both the Jewish and general communities.

I spent 10 years on the board of the Nassau County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, including two as president.   This coalition provides temporary housing to survivors of domestic violence and their young children who witnessed the abuse as well as a full range of services.

It is hard for me to believe that only 9 years ago, when we moved to Manhattan, I was introduced to whole new age group that I never had thought about before – teens who experience dating abuse and domestic violence.  I learned from the Executive Director of Day One, an organization that works to end domestic violence among youth, that according to the US Department of Justice, one in three teens experiences abuse in a dating relationship.

After attending an amazing workshop in a high school in Manhattan presented by the Day One educator, I joined the board of the then one-year old organization, the only in New York City solely devoted to the issue of dating violence.

In addition to the education of teens as well as adults like guidance counselors and assistant principals, Day One provides legal assistance and a social worker as well as engaging young people to identify methods of keeping themselves and their peers safe and together envision a future without fear of abuse.

So during Domestic Violence month, think of the women who survived domestic abuse and their children who are assisted by organizations around the country.

I cannot say how important it is to be aware of the lesser-known issue of dating violence among young people.  Hope that your daughter will speak to you if she is in an abusive relationship, and be active in creating a safe environment for all children and teenagers so that, one day, domestic violence will be eradicated. To learn more about this issue, Day One’s website is www.dayoneny.org.

Honey HellerHoney Heller is long-time member of Commission on Social Action and founding member of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State

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