Wichita Teen Speaks Out Against Dating Violence

With this week being dedicated nationally to addressing Teen Dating Violence, we are working hard to provide you insightful tips, stories, and inspirations throughout this week.  Today’s focus?  How do teens recover from violence?  What outlets can we give them to express themselves?

Brian Latta, a Digital Productions teacher at Northwest High School in Wichita, Kansas assigned his class a project. He challenged his students to create a public service announcement about teen dating abuse. The public service announcement they were creating could only be one minute in length.

Not a lot of time to send an entire message. Not until one of his students took the challenge head on!

Ashley Hoyle experienced teen dating violence first hand. She is a survivor.

She wanted to express to teens, adults, law enforcement, and educators just how serious the problem is and how hard it is to recognize the signs. Ashley was able to tell others through her video what she wasn’t able to verbalize about her experience. Her message was so strong that she was selected to be the National Spokeswoman for National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week which started yesterday (on Sunday).

Not only was she given the opportunity to warn and help others but she also has found a way to experience healing for herself.  As I travel the country, I continually meet incredible survivors who share how writing, performance, or some form of expressing themselvs is what really sped up the healing and recovery process for them as survivors.  Many of the surivors in the book "Voices of Courage" have talked about how powerful writing their chapter for the book was for their own personal journeys.  Then to hear from other survivors who have praised the book — has simply made the journey that much more meaningful for them.

Being part of an abusive relationship eats away at self esteem. The abuser uses control and manipulation to slowly or quickly eliminate a victim’s self esteem.  Providing the ability for a survivor to do something constructive with his/her experience re-builds the self-esteem.

When working with abused teens, explore what re-builds their self-esteem.  What projects and contests can you sponsor or create in your schools and communities?  Who will you team up with?  Local TV, local cable access networks, print media, retailers, etc…

Self-esteem can also grow through finding ways to experience success in other venues:  a sport, hobby or interest. Help survivors recognize how special they are to the world.  Remind them of their many talents that make them remarkable.  More than anything, help them realize how incredible they are for THEMSELVES.

This posting was inspired by the following article:
"Wichita teen a national speaker on abuse" by JILLIAN COHAN with Wichita Eagle.  Click here to read full article.

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