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An estimated According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a quarter of girls and 15 percent of boys experience some form of intimate partner violence — such as sexual assault, physical abuse or stalking — before the age of Children and teens who experience dating violence or who are exposed to domestic violence at home are at higher risk for mental health problems. And, due to their past trauma, they are more likely than other young people to experience abusive relationships as adults.
Across California, public health advocates are working to prevent violence before it begins.
Among them are hundreds of young people who are sparking conversations in their schools and communities about what healthy relationships should look like and how to recognize abusive behaviors. The California Health Report spoke with six of these youths about their activism and the experiences that motivate them. All saw an urgent need to help more young people recognize abusive behaviors in themselves and others. Doing so, they said, can play a critical role in breaking the cycle of violence. Home was not a safe place for Marissa Williams growing up. From the time she was in sixth grade, Williams remembers watching her mom and stepdad argue violently.
The disagreements often involved physical abuse.
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Starting in middle school, Williams did everything she could to avoid being near her stepfather. She desperately wanted her mom to leave him, but the years passed and the violence escalated. Finally, inher life changed. Her mom left her stepfather and moved with Williams from the Bay Area to San Diego to start a new life.
It was there that Williams heard about a storytelling workshop facilitated by the Berkeley-based StoryCenterwhich helps individuals and organizations tell stories to inspire social change. But over several sessions, Williams began to open up.
What emerged was a script and video that captures not only the pain and sadness of her past, but also her resilience and hope for the future. Ben Salemme was a freshman at James C. Enochs High School in Modesto when he heard an announcement about a club focused on preventing violence in teen relationships.
Though barely 14 at the time, teenage dating violence was very real for Salemme. In eighth grade, he got involved in what he now understands was a toxic relationship. He experienced emotional abuse and blackmail, and became isolated from his friends.
Doctor’s notes: teen dating violence is widespread, but underreported
The situation got so bad that his college-age sister travelled home from San Diego to persuade him to break up with the girl he was dating. With other youth leaders from nearby high schools, he delivers presentations about dating violence and healthy relationships during health classes, school assemblies and youth conferences. Salemme wishes he could share the information he now presents with his year-old self.
He would have ended his middle school relationship much sooner, he said. Adults often tell him they would have benefitted from learning about dating violence as teenagers too. Zara Ahmed became interested in dating violence prevention during high school. She was alarmed by some of the dating behaviors she saw other students engage in, such as pushing another person to have sex before they were ready, or trying to exert control.
She was also outraged by the rape case involving Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who received what many people regard as a lenient 6-month jail sentence for assaulting an unconscious woman. Now 19, Ahmed is a youth leader with Team Stronger Than You Thinka Fremont-based organization that works to educate other young people about healthy relationships.
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Every year, the group holds a day-long program for area students about a different relationship-related subject. Ahmed and other team members also give presentations at local schools. And they strive to educate themselves about healthy relationship topics through biweekly discussions facilitated by staff mentors at SAVE, a domestic violence crisis center in Fremont. Set boundaries and know your worth.
The age of consent in california is 18
At first, the lessons seemed abstract. But in his sophomore year at Oakland School for the Arts, Castellanos noticed one of his friends was dating a boy who constantly talked down to her. The boy tried to stop her from seeing her friends and told her that no one else would date her.
Major red flags, Castellanos thought. So he decided to intervene. After successfully convincing her to leave her boyfriend, other friends started asking Castellanos for advice about their dating troubles. Now 17 and living in Sacramento, Castellanos volunteers as a teen mentor.
He talks with teens who have experienced dating violence, unhealthy friendships or violence in their homes. One day, he hopes to become an advocate like his mom.
That changed when, two years ago, she became a youth advocate with the Center for the Pacific Asian Family in Los Angeles. There, she was introduced to other teenagers who had experienced domestic violence. Fernandes wants other young people to have a safe space to talk about intimate partner violence, and to learn about healthy relationships.
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After participating in a leadership project with other youth advocates last summer, she came up with a plan to start a club at South Pasadena High School, which she attends. The club is deed to give students an opportunity to learn about and discuss violence prevention, and to share their own experiences.
Estrella Torres has been using her love of singing, acting and making videos to spread the word about healthy relationships and how to recognize harassment since she was She helps write scripts about healthy relationships and violence prevention for middle school students, including a youth-led news series about sexual harassment. Torres spoke at a local roundtable discussion on healthy relationships in February, and participated in a question and answer session between California youth and legislators organized by the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.
At school, Torres said friends often ask her for advice about how to handle relationship issues and difficult interactions with peers.
What happens if a year-old has sex with an year-old?
She helps them recognize unhealthy behaviors like jealousy and body shaming, and advises students to find a trusted adult such as a teacher or staff member, to speak to if a situation is serious. Relationship violence is a public health crisis. An escape to hope and safety Marissa Williams outside her high school in La Mesa.
To avoid being home, Williams enrolled in many after-school activities. From supportive friend to youth mentor Rosalio Castellanos outside his home in Sacramento. Recommended for you. Related Posts.