"Respect Love, Love Respect." That simple phrase eloquently captures the important message behind a new website and Facebook page designed to educate teens and young adults about dating abuse.
Created by the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, or OPDV, with input from teens and young adults, the website and Facebook page were unveiled in Ithaca, the hometown of the young woman who coined the "Respect Love, Love Respect" slogan for the initiative. The online and social networking resources are designed to raise awareness of dating abuse, encourage healthy relationships, empower teens and young adults to take action on the issue, and link them - and the adults in their lives - to resources and assistance.
"About a third of young people will be in an abusive relationship at some point, and many of them won't realize that they are in trouble, and won't know who to ask," said OPDV Executive Director Amy Barasch. "We want to make sure that young people have good information so that they can make the best decisions in order to stay healthy and safe. The goal of the website is to appeal directly to young people and provide them with this information in a way that is meaningful and useful to them."
Ithaca Mayor Carolyn K. Peterson said: "It is most fitting to unveil the new website during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Ithaca, at our youth bureau. Our community is about education and communication. We are a community with a population majority of young people. Using a website and social media, with a slogan developed by a young woman, will be key to getting out a message of awareness and mutually respectful relationships."
Joanne Farbman, executive director of the Advocacy Center, which provides services to domestic violence and sexual assault survivors in Tompkins County, said: "OPDV's dating abuse website and Facebook page are important new resources that will help teens and young adults find accurate and developmentally appropriate information about dating abuse and healthy relationships. It's wonderful to have state support for the work we're doing with young people. We know that youth and parents around New York state will find great value in using the website and Facebook page, and we look forward to continued collaborations."
Barasch, Peterson and Farbman were joined for the announcement at the Ithaca Youth Bureau by Ithaca-area young adults, as well as community leaders, elected and law enforcement officials from Ithaca and throughout Tompkins County.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has designated October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in New York State.
Cady Fontana, a graduate of Ithaca High School and now a student at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, won an OPDV-sponsored contest to develop a slogan for the new website and Facebook page. She also received a certificate of recognition from Peterson at the event.
"Those small words - Respect Love, Love Respect - are very meaningful to me," Fontana said. "Respecting and loving yourself, expecting that respect in return, and loving and respecting your partner - this mutual respect is the foundation of a healthy relationship. It's very exciting to see these words on the state's new website and I hope young people take them to heart."
Barasch also announced an essay contest, co-sponsored by women's clothier Liz Claiborne, that young adults can enter via the "Respect Love, Love Respect" website: http://respectlove.opdv.ny.gov or Facebook page: www.facebook.com/respectloveNYS.
Jane Randel, Liz Claiborne senior vice president for corporate communications and brand services, said: "Since 1991, Liz Claiborne Inc. has been working to end domestic violence. As teens and young adults are a major focus of our work, we applaud the new 'Respect Love, Love Respect' website and we are delighted to partner with OPDV on the new 'Dating Abuse and Healthy Relationships' essay contest. Hearing young people describe what's important to them in their own voices is invaluable to our work, and we are happy to offer a prize that appropriately acknowledges the winner."
The contest invites young people to write an essay describing a healthy relationship they know and its impact on them. The winner will receive a trip to New York City in December, which will include participation in "It's Time to Talk Day," a national talk radio event designed to raise awareness of domestic violence.
As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, OPDV also spearheads the state's campaign to "Shine the Light on Domestic Violence." Now in its fourth year, the campaign encourages public, private and non-profit entities to raise awareness of the issue by embracing the color purple - the symbolic hue for domestic violence awareness - by shining purple lights on buildings or other structures in their community, wearing purple or sponsoring awareness events. For more information about the Shine the Light on Domestic Violence campaign, visit www.opdv.ny.gov and click on the "Shine the Light on Domestic Violence" link.
The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (www.opdv.ny.gov) is the nation's only executive-level state government agency dedicated to improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. The agency provides guidance to the governor and State Legislature on policy and legislation; conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs; and trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement and health care.
Liz Claiborne has been leading efforts to raise awareness of and educate the public about domestic violence since 1991. More recently, the company's efforts have focused on teens and their dating relationships through its "Love is Not Abuse" (www.loveisnotabuse.com) initiatives.
The Advocacy Center (www.theadvocacycenter.org), formerly the Task Force for Battered Women/Child Sexual Abuse Project, has provided support, advocacy and education for survivors of domestic violence since 1977, survivors of child sexual abuse since 1982 and survivors of sexual assault since 2003.