Missing Mother

Feature Archive 2008

Missing Mother

July 18, 2008

Four months ago, thirteen-year-old Amber Simmons awoke to find her mother, Rachel Conger, missing from their home in Como, Tennessee. Authorities later found the truck Rachel was last seen in and her abusive ex-husband, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, outside of Como.

Amber is now leading the effort to find her mother and raising awareness about domestic and dating violence. She explains, “My mom would go to the ends of the earth to find me. I have to keep looking… I don’t want anyone to end up like my Mom.”

Young Amber’s courage in the face of such a heart-breaking situation is an inspiration to those of us working to end domestic violence. If you would like to help, Amber has requested you visit her blog.

New York Improves Law

July 3, 2008

In an exciting change of public policy, New York now allows thousands more victims, including teens, to access civil protection orders. The New York Legislature voted unanimously to expand the law. Now, teenagers, same sex couples and cohabitants can access legal protection without involving the police.

Along with others, Break the Cycle criticized New York for the narrow extent of its laws. It was one of fifteen states that we failed in our State Report Cards. Break the Cycle is excited to announce this victory, which brings us one-step closer to ending teen dating violence.

Welcome 2008 Summer Interns

June 20, 2008

This summer, Break the Cycle is proud to introduce eleven new interns! They come from around the country with the common goal of engaging, educating, and empowering youth to end domestic violence.

Our summer interns are working on some of Break the Cycle’s most exciting and impactful projects: creating an interactive, educational DVD, producing a fotonovela to raise awareness among Latino youth, encouraging youth activism through Campaign impACT, working on legal cases, and securing funds.

The eleven interns nearly double our staff, greatly adding to the success and productivity of the organization. Break the Cycle is excited to welcome the interns and we look forward to working with them throughout the summer!

Kicking the Silence

June 9, 2008

Break the Cycle’s Washington DC staff rounded up friends and family to participate in the “Kick the Silence” kickball tournament. The tournament supported the DC Rape Crisis Center in continuing to offer free, 24-hour counseling, support and crisis intervention for sexual assault survivors, their families and friends.

Our team may have lost with a score of 5-6, but the day was certainly a win! Along with competing, Break the Cycle’s kickball players created “shirts of truth,” displaying messages of hope and unity. After a day of reggae music and sun, the domestic violence prevention community felt rejuvenated and empowered with a renewed sense of collaboration and harmony. Great job everyone!

Leadership Transition

May 27, 2008

Nearly four years ago, I was promoted into the position of Executive Director at a time of challenging transition for Break the Cycle. During my tenure, we have achieved impressive accomplishments, embarked on major organizational restructuring, and clearly defined Break the Cycle’s goals and strategic vision. And I am proud to say we have never strayed from our core mission and values.

After much consideration, I have determined the time has come for me to step down as Break the Cycle’s Executive Director.

I have benefited from the most talented, smart and committed management team, staff and board of directors one could wish for. Together we have built a truly innovative, forward-thinking organization, and of that I am extremely proud. We have laid the groundwork for a new phase in the organization’s life cycle, and I am certain it will be a successful one.

We are now in a stable place, with a clear vision of who we are and where we are going in the future. We have a strong base of support to help us succeed. On the horizon, Break the Cycle is launching significant national partnerships and programs that will reinforce our reputation as a leader in the movement to end domestic violence.

This is a very bittersweet decision for me. For 10 years, I have been honored to work for such a great organization and with such incredible people. I will forever be an enthusiastic champion of Break the Cycle and I look forward to working alongside you as a supporter of the agency’s life-saving mission to empower youth to end domestic violence.

I assure you that I am committed to making this a smooth transition and will remain with the organization until the position is filled. Please do not hesitate to email me directly at jessica.aronoff@breakthecycle.org to discuss this and Break the Cycle’s exciting future.

With sincere gratitude for your continued support,

Mary Kay Helps End Violence

May 13, 2008

As part of a global effort, Mary Kay is donating its profits from the Beauty that Counts™ campaign to change the lives of women and children.

Through the sale of Creme Lipstick in Apple Berry, Mary Kay is sponsoring Break the Cycle’s groundbreaking Ending Violence DVD – an interactive domestic violence prevention tool especially designed to educate teens about building healthier, happier relationships.

First Online Campaign Huge Success

May 1, 2008

Break the Cycle’s first online drive, the Brick Campaign, was a huge success! We surpassed our goal, raising more than $3000 and selling out all available bricks. Break the Cycle is proud to unveil the community proclamation of those that stand with us against domestic violence. Each brick contains a personal message of support and hope.

See the bricks now!

The contributions from the campaign will help us continue to expand thesafespace.org –our virtual community that offers the information young people need to prevent, diagnose and escape unhealthy relationships. You can help us build The Safe Space by making a contribution to Break the Cycle today!

Congratulations Run/Walkers!

April 21, 2008

On Sunday, April 6, more than 80 friends and supporters of Break the Cycle ran or walked in solidarity at the 4th Annual 5K Run/Walk for Victims’ Rights.

The Run/Walk was a wonderful success! Thank you to everyone who gave their time, energy and dollars in honor of Break the Cycle and our mission to prevent and end domestic violence. Not only did 100% of the registration fees and sponsorships go directly to ending violence, but proceeds were doubled by Verizon! These contributions help ensure that everyone, regardless of age, has the right to safe and healthy relationships.

Special thanks to Kathy Colobong and the rest of the staff at the LA City Attorney’s office, as well as the many volunteers for organizing a fun way to increase awareness about such an important issue and to benefit so many local service organizations like Break the Cycle.

Click on the images below to see them in full!

LA Youth Leadership Council Camp

April 14, 2008

On a rainy Saturday earlier this year, Break the Cycle spent the day with the dynamic Los Angeles Youth Leadership Council (LAYLC), presenting workshops on healthy relationships.

A flagship program of the Majestic Realty Foundation, LAYLC is a group of young leaders from throughout Los Angeles. Every year they participate in a weekend camp to hone their skills. Break the Cycle is honored to join in that tradition!

Break the Cycle teaches youth that it is just as important to know what they want in a healthy relationship as it is for them to know the patterns and signs of an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Our interactive, healthy relationship workshops encourage youth to think about what they expect from their relationships and how to communicate those expectations to a partner.

A user-friendly version of Break the Cycle’s Healthy Relationships workshop will be available to educators soon as an independent presentation on healthy relationships and as a supplement to our Dating Violence 101 curriculum.


April 8, 2008

Break the Cycle is thrilled to announce its 4th annual SAVOR the SEASON signature fundraising event, which has been named one of the top ten food and wine events in Los Angeles.

This year, SAVOR the SEASON will be held at the Vibiana in downtown LA, on Sunday September 21st from 6-9 PM. The lush elegance of the Vibiana cathedral offers the ultimate environment for this stylish and sophisticated extravaganza.

This night will not be soon forgotten! Those attending will be entertained with magnificent chefs, innovative food experiences, sophisticated wines and a silent auction of luxury items, all while celebrating Break the Cycle’s 12 years of service and life-changing work.

SAVOR the SEASON‘s upscale and festive experience is a spectacular evening of food and wine that also helps Break the Cycle continue our mission and make positive changes in the lives of teens.

Break the Cycle Launches First Online Campaign

March 31, 2008

Dating violence harms one out of every three teens in the United States. That number is unacceptable but will not change unless youth have the resources they need to create and maintain healthy relationships.

You Can Help! Young people need a safe space to ask questions, get expert advice, share stories and learn how to become activists against domestic violence.

Contribute to this important effort by buying a virtual brick. Your brick is customizable and carries a personal message of positivity, support and hope. We will unveil the bricks May 1st, creating a community proclamation from those who stand against domestic violence.

With a contribution of as little as $25, you can help build The Safe Space.

Dating Violence Prevalent Among Tweens

March 7, 2008

A recent study, sponsored by Liz Claiborne Inc., found that dating violence is prevalent among tweens, adolescences between the ages of 11 and 14. The research found:

  • 1/2 of tweens have been or are in romantic relationships
  • 1/2 of teen girls with prior relationship experience report being victims of verbal, physical, or sexual abuse
  • 1 in 5 American tweens who have been in a relationship reported knowing a friend who had been struck in anger by a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • More than 1/2 of teens who had sex before the age of 14 experienced high rates of violence or abuse in relationships

Break the Cycle works with tweens, bringing them preventive education, opportunities for activism and safer institutions. We believe all people, regardless of age, have the right to safe and healthy relationships.

Until the Violence Stops

March 3, 2008

It takes a village. In our efforts to end abuse, Break the Cycle needs the community. We are honored to have so many strong, innovative partners, such as Until the Violence Stops: Los Angeles.

Building off the success of 10 years of V-Day events, Until the Violence Stops is organizing a two-week long festival to make Los Angeles the safest city in the world for young women and girls. Through empowering entertainment, they will raise awareness and funds to end violence against women.

Victoria Russell is one of the founding producers of UTVSLA and a long-time Break the Cycle supporter. Victoria believes that, “All young people should be taught that their bodies are this planet’s greatest natural resource” and that, “Break the Cycle’s work is important because they serve the young men and women who hold our future in their hands.”

The festival starts July 27 and tickets go on sale March 31. You can learn more about Until the Violence Stops: Los Angeles at utvsla.org.

Valentine’s Day Our Way

February 14, 2008

February 14th might as well be called national date night. For anyone in a romantic relationship, Valentine’s Day mandates a celebration.

At Break the Cycle, we see Valentine’s Day a bit differently. We view it as an opportunity to celebrate relationships that make you happy—regardless of whether they are romantic or not. For us, the holiday is not about whom you are dating on February 14th. It is about the relationships that make you stronger, happier, healthier and more confident.

Break the Cycle recognizes Valentine’s Day as a chance to honor all the positive things in each of our relationships. It is a chance to celebrate the bonds with friends and family who support us through difficult times, our connections with mentors who help us learn and grow and the love of companions who encourage our happiness and success.

February 14th is a day we can all take to commemorate our healthy relationships. But let’s not limit our appreciation to one box on the calendar. Join Break the Cycle in celebrating Valentine’s Day all year by working with us to ensure that everyone, everywhere has the right to safe and healthy relationships.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Break the Cycle Issues State Report Cards on Teen Dating Violence

February 3, 2008

Today, Break the Cycle issued the first-ever state-by-state report cards evaluating the level of legal protection each state offers young victims of domestic and dating violence. The report was issued in conjunction with National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week.

The report cards are designed to draw attention to the discrepancies between the protections afforded to adult victims of violence as compared to teen victims. States were graded on an A through F scale. Those states that do not allow minors to obtain restraining orders were given an automatic failure.

Fifteen states received an “F” while only three – California, New Hampshire and Oklahoma — received “A’s.” Along with the grades, Break the Cycle released recommendations for improvement of state domestic violence laws.

For more information, view the report.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Week

January 31, 2008

Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week is February 4-8. In recognition, Break the Cycle is expanding our online content and improving the navigation of both sites. These changes reflect our growing programs and long-standing commitment to ending domestic violence.

Our new technical assistance program helps communities build the knowledge and tools they need to appropriately respond to youth experiencing dating violence. Together we can improve the systems, policies and procedures that impact the care and services provided to youth affected by this problem.

On thesafespace.org, there is a host of new material in more dynamic forms. Now you can browse our handouts more easily and educate yourself about teen dating violence in Spanish.

Look for new content throughout both sites and check back often. We are committed to providing the best and most relevant information online.

Break the Cycle Expands DC Office

January 18, 2008

In 2007, Break the Cycle staff and board collaborated to draft a strategic plan that outlines the organization’s priorities and goals for the coming three years. Among the top priorities was the desire to increase the prominence, size and role of the DC office so that it mirrors the Los Angeles office.

Shortly after we put the strategic plan on paper, we were awarded funding to launch our Technical Assistance Center in Washington, DC. Additional money to support the expansion of our policy and advocacy programs soon followed. And so, the hiring of new staff began. Since October, the DC staff size has increased from two to seven!

Meet the Staff

From Top Left: Policy & Technical Assistance Manager Brandy Davis, Staff Attorney April Guillen, Training Coordinator Rakia McDonald and Policy & Technical Assistance Attorney Colleen Gallopin

From Bottom Right: Director of Policy Programs Juley Fulcher, Education & Outreach Coordinator Tabitha Joyner and Director of Operations Rhonda Waller

The expansion of our DC staff and programs is wonderful and provides new and exciting opportunities for the community to support our work. But the growth also creates greater need: from larger office space, to IT support, to office supplies and other resources. If you are interested in learning about volunteer opportunities, donating, and or other ways you can join our efforts, please contact Director of Operations, Rhonda Waller rhonda.waller@breakthecycle.org.

Break the Cycle to Attend NBC Expo

January 4, 2008

Break the Cycle is attending NBC4’s Health and Fitness Expo in Washington, DC on January 12 to 13. Stop by our table to meet the staff, pick up information about teen dating violence and learn how you can get involved in creating a healthier, safer new year.

This FREE-to-the-public event is designed to capture the attention of tens of thousands of health conscious consumers, offering dancing, aerobics, health tests and screenings, jazzercising, soccer, rock climbing, a community blood drive and much more! Tons of fun family activities combined with important health and medical information to help our community get healthy and fit. We expect to see more than 80,000 people from the Washington Metropolitan area at this one-of-a-kind event!

Exhibit Dates & Times:

Saturday, January 12 & Sunday, January 13, 9:00am – 5:00pm

Expo Location:

Washington DC Convention Center, Halls B & C
801 Mount Vernon Place, NW
Washington, DC 20001
Main Phone 202-249-3600

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Feature Archive
  • Missing Mother July 18, 2008
  • New York Improves Law July 3, 2008
  • Welcome 2008 Summer Interns June 20, 2008
  • Kicking the Silence June 9, 2008
  • Leadership Transition May 27, 2008
  • Mary Kay Helps End Violence May 13, 2008
  • First Online Campaign Huge Success May 1, 2008
  • Congratulations Run/ Walkers! April 21, 2008
  • LA Youth Leadership Council Camp April 14, 2008
  • SAVOR the SEASON 2008 April 8, 2008
  • Break the Cycle Launches First Online Campaign March 31, 2008
  • Dating Violence Prevalent Among Tweens March 7, 2008
  • Until the Violence Stops March 3, 2008
  • Valentine’s Day Our Way February 14, 2008
  • Break the Cycle Issues State Report Cards on Teen Dating Violence February 3, 2008
  • Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Week January 31, 2008
  • Break the Cycle Expands DC Office January 18, 2008
  • Break the Cycle to Attend NBC Expo January 4, 2008