February, 2021 | Dating Violence Awareness Month Edition
From HCWC Executive Director,
Marla Johnson
February is Dating Violence Awareness Month giving every one of us a nudge to engage with the youth in our lives and, quite literally, change the world. Imagine a community where young people know they can expect to be in healthy relationships. Imagine that young people do not feel personally responsible and ashamed when someone they care about is violent or mean. Imagine that adults are modeling healthy behaviors, admitting their past mistakes, and helping young people successfully navigate the difficult challenges of new relationships.

Just imagine what our community would be like if we could stop all dating violence. This could be the gateway to a community where violence and abuse are no longer a threat.

At HCWC, we support people of all ages, but we especially invest in young people. One program that makes me so excited is the Dating Violence Mock Trial put on by a motivated group of students at Dripping Springs High School with the help of the office of attorney Sarah K. Brandon and other local attorneys. This year will mark the 9th annual mock trial where students will present an actual dating violence case, deliberate the verdict, and then learn “what really happened” in the case.

Over the years, I’ve been privileged to see the “light bulb go on” for hundreds of students participating in this program. They see how dating violence may look like a “normal” relationship, but the signs of abuse are all there and the relationship spins out of control with devasting consequences. These young people leave with a conviction to create an environment where violence and abuse are not tolerated in their lives; and if they do find themselves or a friend in a violent relationship, they know what to do.

What would you tell your younger self about how to have a healthy relationship? Seek out a young person, give them the space to talk, listen to them and share what you have learned. Dare to have those honest conversations. If we all do that every chance we get, we will change our community and our world.
What We're Hearing From Our Clients
"Unhealthy Relationships Can Start Early."

We often hear about domestic violence and the complexities of violence in a marriage or committed relationship, but what many do not know is that the red flags of violence can often be seen early in life when relationship patterns are in their formative stages.  
When Jackie* was in high school, she thought she found the love of her life. Mike* was the first to show an interest in her and she felt he understood her like no one else had before. His attention felt special, but it wasn’t long before his jealousy turned controlling. Their sweet conversations turned cruel whenever he felt threatened. Mike*often resorted to name-calling: “you’re fat, no one else would ever want you” is one that hurt her deeply.  
Jackie* who was once outgoing, active in school and sports slowly became another person who was withdrawn and no longer spent time with friends and family or doing the things she loved. Their arguments grew and ultimately escalated to a violent altercation leaving her scared and confused. She knew her relationship needed to end but every time she tried to leave, Mike* threatened to hurt himself and made her feel like she was the only one that could help him.  

“Emotional manipulation is one of the biggest reasons young people like Jackie* stay with an abusive partner. They often feel confused and need reassurance to listen to their instinct that this is not healthy for them and that there is a way to break this cycle.”

 - Shawna Anderson, HCWC Dating Violence Counselor
Jackie* finally confided in a trusted adult who suggested she seek professional help. After careful safety planning and counseling, she has started to rebuild her life and has learned ways to keep herself safe in the future as she navigates new relationships.  
*Note – This is a true story from a local victim of abuse. Names and some circumstances have been changed to maintain confidentiality.
Having open and honest conversations with youth about healthy relationships can make a difference in the effort to end violence in our community.  
Join Us in Ending Dating Violence!
Dating Violence Awareness Month is a national effort to raise awareness about the impacts of dating abuse and encourage communities to support teens and young adults in seeking healthy relationships. Though these conversations are important to have year-round, February gives us the opportunity to shine a light on dating abuse and inspire conversations about healthy relationships in order to stop violence before it starts.
Wear Orange
Participate in Wear Orange Day on Tuesday, February 9th to raise awareness about dating violence and promote healthy relationships. Post a picture of you in your orange on social media and include statistics, relationship red flagsand green flags, or finish the statement “I Wear Orange Because…”.
Take The Pledge
Take the #WhatAboutLove pledge to end dating violence. Share the pledge on social media to encourage others to do the same. Don’t forget to use #WhatAboutLove and #StopTheHurt!
Join the Conversation
Join us online and on social media as we deep dive into the dynamics of dating violence, how it affects youth and young adults, and what you can do to support victims of abuse in your community. Connect with us via our HCWC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @HCWCenter, PLUS our Stop The Hurt Facebook and Twitter @StopTheHurtHCWC, and Instagram @StopTheHurt_HCWC. Make sure to use the hashtags #StopTheHurt and #WhatAboutLove all month long!

Each week we will be publishing a new article relating to Dating Violence on StopTheHurt.org. You can also find these articles in your local newspaper. Articles include:
  • Take Action to Prevent Dating Violence
  • Effects of Dating Violence on Young Adults
  • Healthy Love Online and Offline
  • How Adults Can Support Youth and Young Adults
Teen Relationship Workshop
Join our Prevention Coordinator for this virtual workshop about the dynamics of unhealthy and healthy relationships presented by the Dripping Springs Community Library.
Dating Violence Mock Trial
The Dripping Springs High School Dating Violence Awareness board will be hosting their annual Dating Violence Mock Trial virtually. This opportunity gives high school students the ability to see what really happens in a dating violence trial and how it affects those involved.
Last year's Dating Violence Mock Trial at the Hays County Government Center
Consider Purchasing from Our Dating Violence Awareness Wishlist on Amazon
Throughout the year, we are in need of supplies for our counseling and prevention programs. We would be so grateful to receive these items as donations. We have created an Amazon wish list with supplies needed to enhance these services we provide. Thank you for your support of the youth we serve!
A Place for Healing, A Heart of Gratitude
We would like to send a special thanks to all of our donors, supporters, and community partners. Without you, we would not be able to provide these critical services to Hays and Caldwell counties.

Most of all, we would like to thank each and every person we serve for having the bravery and strength to reach out for help.

At HCWC, our mission is to help create a community where violence and abuse are not tolerated. With your help, we WILL see that our mission is accomplished.