Dating Violence Awareness Month – Press Release

Alachua County Recognizes February as Dating Violence Awareness Month

Peaceful Paths highlights importance of violence prevention programs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Morgan Moeller, Director of Violence Prevention

Phone: 352-377-5690

Email: morganm@peacefulpaths.org

GAINESVILLE – February has been recognized as Dating Violence Awareness Month in Alachua County by county, city and school board officials. Throughout the month Peaceful Paths, in partnership with other local organizations, will coordinate activities to raise awareness about the importance of violence prevention efforts.

Violence prevention is a central focus of Peaceful Paths’ mission.  Peaceful Paths’ Violence Prevention program offers a coordinated, comprehensive approach to preventing dating and domestic violence, collectively referred to as intimate partner violence. Peaceful Paths recognizes that crisis intervention services, including emergency shelter, hotline and outreach programs, are vital to ensure safety for survivors and their families. However, the agency also recognizes that to end intimate partner violence we must address root causes, including cultural acceptance of violence, sexism and other forms of oppression.

At present, we lack accurate data related to local dating violence statistics. However, we know dating violence affects all Alachua County youth, crossing all racial, social, religious, ethnic, geographic and economic groups. Nationally, one in four adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual violence each year; and one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dating violence is associated with unhealthy sexual behaviors that can lead to unintended pregnancy, sexually-transmitted diseases, and HIV infections. Abusive dating experiences during adolescence may disrupt normal development of self-esteem and body image. Adolescents in abusive relationships often carry these unhealthy patterns of violence into future relationships.

CDC recognizes that by providing youth the tools to engage in healthy relationships, by training supportive adults on how to engage in these types of discussions and offer support, by involving the community in addressing social norms that condone the use of violence as a means of gaining power and resolving conflict, we can begin to make change.

Peaceful Paths offers research-based, multi-session youth programming to provide youth the skills to engage in healthy relationships before they are ever involved in an unhealthy relationship. We offer trainings to adults, including teachers, so they can incorporate activities and conversations into the work they do. And we are actively working with community members to begin to develop other community-wide solutions.

Peaceful Paths has partnered with Victory over Violence and Ignite: Peaceful Paths on Campus to coordinate campus awareness events, including tabling and a campus purple ribbon campaign on February 22 and 23. In addition, Victory over Violence and Wild Iris have partnered to host a film screening and discussion on the relationship between intimate partner violence and the mainstream media. The event will be held on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at Wild Iris Bookstore, 802 West University Avenue.

Peaceful Paths is the certified center that serves survivors of domestic violence in Alachua, Bradford, and Union counties.  Peaceful Paths provides a wide range of free and confidential services including emergency shelter, transitional housing, crisis hotline, victim advocacy, children’s programming, education and training, counseling and support groups for adults, teens, and children, parenting classes, violence prevention programs, community awareness and intervention, and contracted batterer’s intervention programming.  Peaceful Paths is a member of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV).

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