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The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence Utilizes Digital Tools to Reach Teens During Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

NEWS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
CONTACT: Cristina Williams at RICADV: (401) 467-9940; Cell: (917) 940-3729

Local organization partners with statewide advocacy and prevention groups and receives national support for innovative mediums to reach youth

[Providence, R.I.] The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV) continued its innovative approach to reaching teens Friday during the #NOMORERI Tweet Chat, "How Jealous is Too Jealous?" The second online conversation, held on Twitter and Facebook, was designed to reach youth where they spend a majority of their free time—online, particularly using social networking outlets.

"We know that violent behavior is often learned at an early age [between the ages of 12-18], even before it begins to appear in dating relationships. We also know that teens and young adults utilize technology and media devices to engage with one another, but one consequence of that regular use is that digital abuse is rampant among them. For these reasons, technology can be an excellent tool in reaching them," said Deborah DeBare, executive director of the RICADV, "and we are dedicated to ending dating violence and teaching them about healthy relationships."

A 2009 study by eMarketer estimated that 72 percent of teens rated themselves a light, average or heavy user of social networking outlets. More than 90 percent of teens go online and, more and more of them are flocking to websites such as Twitter.

 

With this in mind, the #NOMORERI Tweet Chat Series was created to teach youth about healthy relationships and engage them in real, honest dialogue about dating violence. Each chat is led by a dating violence survivor from the RICADV task force Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR); still, after the first chat it was clear that the series was also making a deeper impact on a group that is normally exposed to these stories.

"Thank you everyone for hearing & sharing. Your support made sharing my story for the 1st time very empowering!" posted "Emily" the survivor who led the first chat on February 8 from the SOAR in RI account, and under a pseudonym to make sharing more comfortable.

The fact that so many teens are online is one reason why digital abuse in relationships is on the rise. Some dangerous online behaviors include monitoring partners, checking their messages, bombarding them with messages and requesting inappropriate photos. And overall, one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. Girls and women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence and very often, parents are unaware of the abuse. What's worse is that teen girls face relationship violence three times more than adult women, and this experience often continues the cycle of abuse as they get older.

Clearly, there is a conversation that needs to happen, and RICADV has taken it to social media to do just that.

The launch of the #NOMORERI Tweet Chat Series, "Loves Me, Loves Me Not," was made successful in part because of the support from local and national advocacy and prevention groups, including the national NO MORE group. NO MORE is a groundbreaking symbol designed to galvanize change and radically increase the awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault in our communities. It also unites organizations that are working to end domestic violence and advocating for the rights of victims. The RICADV's NO MORE RI campaign was developed as an extension of the national effort during the Domestic Violence Awareness campaign in October 2012 and has been the foundation for the Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month campaign.

In addition to the #NOMORERI Tweet Chat Series, the RICADV, along with its member agencies/partners for TDVAPM (Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County, Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, Sojourner House, Women's Center of RI, Women's Resource Center of Newport, Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships [SOAR], Lindsay Ann Burke Memorial Fund, Katie Brown Educational Program and Day One) have planned several other ways to reach and engage with teens and college students (listed below).

RICADV and its TDVAPM committee also launched the month with a partnership with Jasmine Villegas ("Jasmine V"), who was chosen to be the spokesperson of the NO MORE RI campaign in February. She is a rising recording artist, social media maven and dating violence survivor who passionately speaks about her experience in the hopes of empowering others to do the same and end teen dating violence. The TDVAPM PSA featuring Jasmine is currently airing in RI. More information about Jasmine can be found on www.NOMORERI.org.

Another vital partner in both the prevention and education of dating violence, the Johnson & Wales Gender Equity Center, hosted the February 15 #NOMORERI Tweet Chat. This partnership models work that is critical to stemming the epidemic and mirrors areas being considered in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which the Senate voted to reauthorize this week as S.47. The new language includes provisions to help eliminate domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking on college campuses.

Korina Ramsland, director of the Johnson & Wales Gender Equity Center, said of the partnership, "We are happy to lead the trend of the community supporting the RICADV. Dating and domestic violence are global issues. It's not just about one entity—we must stand together. [Our youth] deserve safe and healthy relationships and to be educated so they can also provide leadership to their communities in supporting healthy relationships."

Ramsland also said more than a third of her college population are teens and violence is not behavior the university tolerates. They are committed to helping those going through dating violence situations and are focused on prevention efforts through working with their teens on outreach activities and community service projects.

"We are thrilled to participate in the Tweet Chat Series because technology is often misused and to use it in a healthy way that is positive, is a huge piece of the solution. If we're having to write laws about cyberstalking and bullying, we need to offset that with something truly good and full of hope," she added.

AND the RICADV agrees: violence against young women, and women in general, is a critical epidemic that needs to be addressed both in RI and globally. Here in RI, other activities/efforts planned for TDVAPM include:

State House Lighting: The State House will be lit teal from February 15-22 in recognition of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TDVAPM). The new color is symbolic of the national NO MORE campaign to end dating and domestic violence in Rhode Island.

#NOMORERI Tweet Chat on Feb. 22 "Breaking the Cycle" from 2-4 p.m.: The final conversation in the #NOMORERI Tweet Chat Series will focus on breaking the cycle of abuse and will be led by a dating violence survivor like the first two.

Digital Dating Violence Training for Teens on Feb. 27 from 1-3 p.m.: The RICADV and Sojourner House will offer a special training, "Innovative Ways to Work with Youth on Teen Dating Violence Prevention in the Digital Era." The training will show how technology and the Internet can be used to teach the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships and offer strategies. Registration/more info is available at www.ricadv.org.

Real Talk Cards: This tool was created for parents and adults that work with young people to start a dialogue about healthy relationships with the youth in their lives. They are pocket-sized for ease of use and they will also be available online at www.NOMORERI.org.

For additional information about the RICADV and NO MORE campaign to end dating violence, please visit www.NOMORERI.org or call (401) 467-9940. And, if you need help, call the 24-hour hotline at 1-800-494-8100.

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