You are stronger than you think. The words sound so simple, but carry so much meaning, especially for anyone feeling trapped in an unhealthy relationship, pressured to date, or just struggling with low self-esteem. This school year, Safe Alternatives to Violent Environments (SAVE) and Mission San Jose High School’s Peer Resource Group collaborated to launch a t-shirt campaign addressing relationship abuse. The impetus behind the campaign: the staggering impact of relationship abuse affecting youth. With approximately one in three high school students experiencing dating abuse first-hand, the need to address this issue resonates with many. Praveena Fernes, Peer Resource Co-President and SAVE’s High School Engagement Coordinator explains, “The root of domestic violence stems from an unhealthy relationship. Spreading awareness at an early stage when teens are just beginning to form relationships prevents the possibility of experiencing an abusive relationship later on.”
A recent U.S. study found that over 57% of teens know someone who has been physically, sexually, or verbally abusive to a partner.* This means that not only are a third of teens experiencing abuse, over half of teens are aware of who is being abusive towards a current or former partner. Although many students may not feel it is not their place to intervene when witnessing abuse, youth have tremendous power to hold their peers accountable for their actions, even if indirectly. This year’s t-shirt campaign is student-driven: the messaging, relevancy, and use of social media are aimed to engage youth both on and off campus. This is more than just a message. This is an anti-violence movement - a call to demand respect and equality in romantic relationships.
The campaign began as a competition, calling students to submit t-shirt designs and slogans to help generate awareness around preventing dating abuse. The winner, Diane Yang, created a very minimalist, eye-catching logo and the accompanying slogan, “You are stronger than you think.” Diane is a recent graduate from Mission San Jose High School and currently attends the Maryland Institute College of Art as a first-year student. She is pursuing her bachelors of art in graphic design. When explaining the meaning behind her design, Diane relates, “I wanted to use an inspirational quote to indirectly promote the cause.” She further elaborates that she did not want the design to be overly detailed, but instead, easily comprehensible even with a glance. To see more of her work, please visit: www.the-innovated.com.
The t-shirts will be available to Mission San Jose and Irvington High School students in early February, and will be used to stimulate discussion around love and relationships, especially what having a healthy relationship really means. Activities are planned for February, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, including “Wear Your Shirt Day” and social media conversations on Instagram. Students will be asked to upload photos of themselves with written responses to questions about love and relationships, such as “What does love mean to you?” To get involved in the campaign, check for updates on our Tumblr (lovesmenot-lovesme.tumblr.com). You can also view campaign photos on Peer Resource’s Instagram (instagram.com/msjpeerresource).
"Dating Abuse Statistics." Love is Respect. Loveisrespect.org, 2011. Web. 28 December 2012. Bottom of Form
“Teen Dating Violence Facts.” National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Institute. Liz Claiborne Inc., 2005. Web 28 December 2012.