February marks National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month. The Retreat, the East End’s only domestic violence services agency, is focused on raising awareness and concentrating their efforts on breaking the cycle of violence by getting local teens involved during a series of projects throughout the month.
“We are very excited that our Teen Leaders are active at so many events across the East End,” said Helen Atkinson-Barnes, The Retreat’s Education Manager. “Promoting respect and healthy relationships is the main goal of the program.”
The community outreach will provide information about the availability of services as well as the importance of healthy relationships to young victims, their families, and their communities. According to The Retreat, teen dating violence is a growing epidemic. Astonishingly enough, one in three teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship with before they become adults. Of those teens, more than two thirds will never report that abuse to an adult.
To educate youth about the growing issue, The Retreat is leading a Teen Leadership Project, which gives East End teenagers the chance to collaborate while learning about violence prevention and also promote awareness and safety in the community. “Year after year, I am blown away by the dedication our students have to encouraging dialogues about abuse,” expressed Atkinson-Barnes.
Participants of the program have planned several community education events beginning with a “Spirit Night” on Friday, February 6th during the Shelter Island vs. Pierson High School basketball game. The evening will commemorate The Retreat and Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month. On Monday, February 9th, Retreat Teen Leaders will hold a presentation about relationship abuse and legal issues with the Youth Court program in Hampton Bays. On Friday, February 13th, students will man The Retreat’s table at One Billion Rising, an international flash mob event at Dodds and Eder in Sag Harbor. On Saturday, February 28th, the students will speak to the community at their Harbor Frost outreach table.
On Tuesday, February 10th, the nation is invited to join supporters by wearing orange to help start the discussion and raise awareness of teen dating abuse.
For more information, call 631-329-4398 or visit www.theretreatinc.org.