February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TDVAM), a month where youth and adult allies around the country raise awareness about and honor those who have been impacted by TDV. Each February, our Youth Against Violence (YAV) Leaders celebrate this month by creating unique and informative awareness campaigns for their peers throughout Contra Costa County. This year, our YAV leaders created a campaign encouraging their peers to choose happiness over relationship history.
Our YAV leaders defined the phrase Happiness over Relationship History as, “choosing your own happiness and self-love over your history with another person or over a long-term relationship that has become toxic, unhealthy or just a habit.” On Orange Day, the national day of teen dating violence awareness, YAV brought this message to five high schools around the county – asking their peers, “why do you choose happiness over relationship history?”
“It was cool to see everybody really thinking why it was important to their own happiness over a bad relationship”, said one YAV leader, “a lot of them really identified with the idea once we explained it, they were excited to write their ideas down.”
Later that week on Valentine’s Day, returned to their peers to celebrate healthy relationships. They handed out healthy relationship Valentine’s goodie bags, filled with candy, free TDVAM wristbands, and a valentine with a healthy relationship message. They went on to ask their peers, “if love shouldn’t hurt, what should it be…”
Overall, this TDVAM our YAV leaders spread awareness about teen dating violence and encouraged their fellow students to prioritize their own happiness and self-care over any amount of time spent in a relationship. By promoting this message of self-love and independence, YAV is helping to shift relationship norms among their peers and work towards preventing future dating violence from happening in the first place.
For more on the campaign, please take a look at our brief video recap of this year’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month campaign.