Please note: Entries within this blog may contain references to instances of domestic abuse, dating abuse, sexual assault, abuse or harassment. At all times, Break the Cycle encourages readers to take whatever precautions necessary to protect themselves emotionally and psychologically. If you would like to speak with an advocate, please contact a 24/7 peer advocate at 866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522.
Break the Cycle started out 2016 with a resolution to engage youth like we never have before. This year you, our amazing supporters, donors, volunteers, board members, and partners, helped us do just that. We’d like to specifically thank some of our biggest partners and funders: Verizon, Mary Kay, the NFL, Alpha Chi Omega, Macy’s,and The Office of Victim Services Justice Grants from the District of Columbia and The Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women. In addition to the many accomplishments listed below, our Policy and Legal services team worked incredibly hard to support and find justice for young survivors in the DMV area. Our partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline gave us another year of the Loveisrespect.org helpline, which provided a safe space for young people to chat with peer advocates about relationships 24/7. Keep reading to learn more about our 2016 journey!
We started the year with a blog post filled with healthy relationship tips, kept the spirit with a presentation at a summit hosted by our friends at That’s Not Cool, and looked to make Teen DV Month 2016 a success by working with Alpha Chi Omega’s National Headquarters on their February healthy relationship initiative: Consent “Pass it On!” campaign.
Every February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. We forged our awareness efforts through the expansion of our education initiative, Start Talking, to 9 new states thanks to support from the NFL: New York, Texas, Alabama, Maine, North Carolina, Iowa, Montana, California, and Florida. We were also privileged enough to not only be the keynote speaker for the Dubuque Iowa Public Schools Technology Youth Summit, where 150 middle school students learned about dating abuse and healthy relationships, but also present at the 2016 Youth Exploitation Safety Symposium (YESS). In Arkansas, we launched our Statewide Healthy Relationship Education Initiative with the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.
Newly energized from a successful teen DV month, we continued the conversation with Google, where we engaged 100 employees online and in-person with an Employee Healthy Relationship Workshop. We continued our work with Pan-Hellenic organizations with a Twitter Chat for Delta Sigma Theta. Our expert from our Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) was asked to sit on the United Friends of the Children Career Day Panel, continuing our commitment to reaching youth.
April was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and Break the Cycle was eager to contribute to the conversation on sexual violence that takes place within intimate partner relationships. Our TTA team took the lead with our Consolidated Youth grantee Peer to Peer Exchange in Denver, CO. They didn’t stop there; in the same month, they co-led a webinar: “Holding Complexity: Young People, Sex Work, and Trafficking” with national partner the Northwest Network. Together they created a pre- and post- discussion guide to continue work on this subject at the local level. Our Communications Team score a win with a blog post on captivating photo series “Well, What Were You Wearing?”; which works to end the stigma that clothes have anything to do with assault.
During Mental Health Awareness Month, we talked about the importance of self-care when one has been in an abusive relationship. We also continued our work with the Consolidated Youth Program. Together with TTA Partners, MCSR and ALSO, we launched the first Grantee Spotlight Series of webinars, highlighting successes and strategies of our various grantees to promote shared learning and collaboration. Break the Cycle expanded their capacity by hiring a full time Youth Programs Coordinator and Social Media Coordinator.
With the generous support of Verizon, June marked the official launch of “Let’s Be Real”, our national youth movement that is by young people for young people about relationships. Young people across the country worked together to name the group and decide on a logo. Meanwhile, our TTA team co-hosted “Introduction to Youth and the Social Media Craze” webinar with local partner and past CY grantee, Jenesse Center.
Continuing the momentum, Let’s Be Real hosted their first in-person event, Real Talks, which are open, honest conversations where young people take the lead and share how they really feel about relationships. The event took place in Los Angeles, but also engaged people online through polls and live tweeting with the hashtag #BTCRealTalk. Break the Cycle’s expertise was utilized at the NCJFCJ 79th Annual Conference, and earned our CEO an invitation to the White House’s State of Women Summit.
As the students went Back 2 School, so did Break the Cycle with encouragement of our dedicated board members. We launched our first Back 2 School campaign complete with new resources like our LGBTQ* Inclusivity papers, Healthy Relationships 101 papers for young people, and Relationship Realities papers for adults. Let’s Be Real added to the excitement with the launch of our Real Stories blog series – a place for young people to write their experiences about dating, relationships, and friendships. Additionally, our Senior Director of Development & Communications and summer Communications intern spoke on a panel about domestic violence in the media at the joint conference of National Association of Black Journalists & National Association of Hispanic Journalists. We co-hosted a national summit with Mary Kay’s Men Don’t Look Away initiative to work with experts around the country on how to engage men in the movement against domestic violence. Finally, our Love Is Not Abuse (LINA) program (a national coalition of caring adults working to end abuse) kicked off its revamp with new resources, including our very first Facebook chat.
The ninth month of the year saw our continuation of the Back 2 School Campaign, including insightful new blog posts from our LINA ambassador, Natasha, and Let’s Be Real members. We continued our in-person Real Talk series in Los Angeles at Garfield High School with InnerCity Struggle, with over 5x as many participants as our first one! With the support of our board member, Dionne, we started our first service-learning course in partnership with the Georgetown University School of Medicine.
October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Break the Cycle was ready to go. We launched a hashtag campaign to bring attention to the fact that abuse starts #YoungerThanYouThink, so prevention is key. The stories – including one written by a Let’s Be Real member, statistics, and graphics shared reached thousands of people online throughout the month. Let’s Be Real hit the road with our Real Talk Roadtrip in the midwest, hosting 6 Real Talks in 3 states and reaching 125 youth participants. We continued the Real Talk momentum with a presentation at Models of Pride in LA and gained over 100 LBR members. Our TTA team worked with Kaiser Permanente Family Violence Prevention Program to give a presentation on dating abuse for medical professionals.
In November, Break the Cycle was fortunate enough to bring on two new staff members – a Policy and Legal Services Director and a Training and Technical Assistance Program Coordinator. We continued our Real Talk events in Washington D.C. and Memphis, TN, reaching 275 young people. In Alaska, we led two breakout sessions and a pre-conference session at the Alaska School Counselor Association Conference; 20 people from across the state who attended and reported an increase in their ability to develop policy around dating abuse. Finally, we launched our Things Aren’t Always What You See campaign with the generous support of Macy’s, to place dating abuse intervention information in fitting rooms across the country through eye-catching posters. To date, we have sent out toolkits to 29 states and 4 international locations.
In December, we co-hosted the OVW Consolidated Youth Winter Institute: “Learning from Each Other: Sharing Grantee Success.” Over 100 participants (youth and adults) came to San Diego, CA to discuss their projects, successes, and tips with other Consolidated Youth grantees. During the Institute, we had our first official LBR and Capacity Building (TTA) crossover event: Youth Breakout Sessions (a version of Real Talks). By the end of the year, we were proud to reach over 200 sign-ups for Let’s Be Real, produce one final Real Stories blog for 2016, and venture into new, artististic projects with them through a design contest and music video partnership.
This only touches the surface of the work we do to fulfill our mission of creating a culture without abuse. We are incredibly proud of all the work our team has done to prevent dating abuse through education, capacity building, and dynamic awareness campaigns. We are also thankful for the opportunity to work with survivors through our legal services program, supporting them through a difficult time in their lives. But we couldn’t do this without your support, so THANK YOU! Continue this essential work with us through a donation. Here’s to another year of life-changing work in 2017 – together we can end dating abuse!
The Break the Cycle Team