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.