Rape Crisis Center aims to teach teens about dating violence ahead of Valentine's Day


    A lone orange ribbon promotes awareness about teen dating violence (Credit:Briana Trusty).

    February can be a romantic month with Valentine's Day taking center stage, but February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

    “Everyone thinks about February 14 and getting the roses and the candy and the bear, but there are things that put you at risk and you need to know what a healthy relationship looks like," said Tamika Jonas, the Rape Crisis Center's prevention coordinator.

    For that reason, the Rape Crisis Center is hosting a Pre-Valentine's Day seminar and self defense class Feb. 10. They hope to shed light on the dangerous side of dating.

    "Recognizing what is verbal abuse, recognizing emotional abuse. Sometimes it’s not always physical," said Doris Williams, the executive director of the Rape Crisis Center.

    It's the center's first event of its kind and they hope it sparks conversation.

    “Create a dialogue for parents, for their sisters or friends just to say they might be concerned or open that door and say, 'Let’s have a conversation about what you consider violence or what you consider a relationship that’s not appropriate or good for you'," said Williams.

    It's a conversation that hits close to home for Tamika Jonas.

    “I’ve had people that I care about who were touched by unhealthy relationships, dating violence and even domestic violence," she said. "So it’s just one of the areas that touches my heart.”

    One in three people in the United States will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse from someone they're dating before they're even become adults. For that reason, the Rape Crisis Center believes prevention is key.

    “If we can spread that, hopefully we can impact those numbers," said Williams.

    "I just don't want any girl or woman to have to go through what my loved ones had to go through," said Jonas.

    The two and a half hour Pre-Valentine's Day seminar and self-defense class will be from 2:15 p.m. until 5 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church or Savannah.

    Sunday's class is already full, but the center's next session will be held on April 7 during sexual assault awareness month.


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