The month of February is Teen Dating Violence (TDV) Awareness Month. In honor of TDV month, the Youth Services Coordinator of the organization InterAct, Anna Epshteyn, decided to put together an awareness event.
“By showing youth-led videos on the issue, the youth can speak on the behalf of all teenagers, which is the most powerful way to make changes,” Epshteyn said.
The awareness event on Feb. 28 at the Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education in Raleigh gave young people the outlet necessary to create change. InterAct was founded in 1984; with the intent to try to provide help to victims and survivors of domestic violence through safety, support and awareness.
“You will be facing many obstacles as you travel through your teenage years. Soon you will start dating and employment, but I think all of you can agree - there is one decision all of you should make - not to accept or engage in violence while dating,” Executive Director of InterAct Leigh Duque said to the students.
One in four high school students experience some sort of dating abuse and 73 percent of those domestic violence incidents go unreported.
Director of Training, Engagement and Prevention of InterAct Ritu Kaur introduced the Shaw University Students involved in Project Ricochet. The project was formed in 2009 as a result of the increase in violent crimes within the community.
Abein El-Amin, executive director of the project, said, “There should always be a presence or a voice.”
With more than 100 people who attended the event, the majority of the audience was family, friends, sponsors and organization members, all of which were there supporting the teens throughout their life journeys.
The preparation for the event and the video filming took about three to four months of hard work from all of the teens and their supporters. There were 10 clubs or schools who all made videos for the TDV event like the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center, InterAct Club of Fuquay Varina, Straight Up, YMCA and Youth Thrive.
Each video was a skit that the teens had put together, about six minutes long and the videos talked about a wide variety of topics in great detail like cyber stalking, physical abuse, mental abuse, the warning signs and effects and why abused victims often stay in a violent relationship.
The InterAct organization demonstrated what a pervasive issue TDV really is within the community.