Every year we see more young people becoming advocates for healthy relationships. We see new leaders forming a generation that will end dating violence. These are their stories.
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“I owe everything I’ve accomplished in the last two years to Day One. Not only am I in therapy, but also, I had no idea how to apply for FAFSA, how to check Blackboard, basically all the things I needed for school and life. I’ve been given all of these skills here, as well as the tools to emotionally handle things, to prepare myself to cope with a potentially abusive situation. The person I am today came out of all that work that Day One has been doing with me.”
“Right now we’re learning about how to figure out ways we can help other people, like maybe help them find a way they can get help for themselves. I feel like people around our age don’t really want to talk to a therapist because it’s just like, oh they’re not gonna listen. But if students get involved, they are going to be able to communicate with other teenagers, so that their voices are heard.”
“I feel like [after the Summer Peer Leadership Institute] this summer, my friends have been like, Whoa, Klevisa, you’re changing, like you’re becoming mature. Now, I give advice to people and they’re like, Wow, I didn’t think about it like that. Now that I’m going to be a peer leader, if [my RAPP Coordinator] Sydney feels like I can relate to a topic, she can refer other people to talk to me. I’m a teenager, they’re a teenager, we can connect more easily. It’s not always easy to talk to an adult.”
“I was first introduced to Day One around 2010. I was a peer leader in a program called Torch, and one of the Day One community educators taught us a workshop on domestic violence. I thought it was so cool. It was the first time I was educated on domestic abuse as opposed to witnessing it like in the home or in the streets.
From the day that I received the workshop, I knew that when I got older, I wanted to do similar work.”
“I think a lot of young folks are experiencing dating violence, but they don’t necessarily have the resources, the language, or any kind of support to talk about it, to help their friends, to recognize signs and symptoms. I hope that Day One continues to grow, and that you continue to raise awareness and serve young folks that really need these services. It would be great if we didn’t have to be doing this work in 15 years.”
“I think we need to learn this for life. You do a lot of learning in your life when it comes to social relationships when you’re young. It’s really when you’re developing and learning how to navigate relationships, and people don’t really learn to navigate in a healthy way.”
“Every step of your life, you’re trying to figure out who you are as a person and how comfortable you can be in your skin. And I think first relationships are mostly toxic, because on TV or in movies they romanticize that you have to go and put 110% into the person — you have to go across bridges and countries just to find the person that you love. But in reality, love is not like that. There’s compromising in a relationship, and boundaries.”
“I think Day One is important because they start the conversation early. When I was growing up, the only conversations we had were very generic, and didn’t really give you practical ways to have conversations with your friends or with your partner or even warning signs to look for. So then by the time you find yourself in this situation, you don’t pick up on it, because it’s not on your radar, and a lot of things are kind of normalized.”
“It’s a real privilege to come to work every day and work with people who believe that this is a problem that is solvable. I would hope that for the next 15 years, our work can deepen and expand and not be something that exists in a niche, but rather is the norm, and that we can have conversations to make sure young people have the skills they need to be supported and to navigate love and relationships.”
“In high school, I started a program that provided teen dating violence education, prevention, and information that spread nationally, and one of the members had worked with Day One in New York. She was also a survivor. So in the summer of 2004, she connected us to Day One. And I remember coming to the city from New Jersey and meeting [Day One’s founder and Executive Director] Stephanie. And I remember thinking at the time that this is what I would want to be doing. This is the dream work for me one day.”
“I think Day One is important because as young people, we need more mentorship, and people who look out for us. Day One brings you together with people who have the tools and connections to help you get a more familiarized feeling of, you know, being young, trying to find your way in the world.”
“I think prior to me being involved with Day One, I didn’t know how to cope with any of my past trauma. Growing up, I experienced trauma after trauma after trauma, and I was never really able to cope with that until I was able to come here to meet with other people who went through the same thing as me. It gave me the push to fight for myself. And it also gave me a voice.”
“I really want Day One to just be everywhere. I want a Day One everywhere in every school. I just feel like this information we’re learning and these opportunities we’re getting are so important and I appreciate — I’m so emotional. I just appreciate it so much, you know? I don’t want to be the only person who gets this opportunity. I’d like there to be more schools, especially predominantly Black, Hispanic, Brown schools. They should get the same opportunities that schools like Murrow do, because I feel like this information is so necessary.”
“I was in a sorority in college, and a couple years ago, one of the girls in my sorority was sexually assaulted. And because I was a YVN member, I was able to reach out to Day One and ask them to do a sexual assault seminar with my sorority girls for a group that needed it. At the time I was on the national board of the sorority as well, and having that connection with Day One was really great, so that I could empower these women to learn more about sexual assault and how to deal with it. I really think that the best thing about YVN is that they’re not just about getting their own message out there, they’re helping people, they’re teaching people, and they’re building awareness. It’s a pretty great thing to be a part of.”
“When I think about Day One, I think about the transformative nature of the work, in that indeed they empower young people to move from victim to victor. I am now holding a book that shows triumph and shows how an intervention by Day One not only transformed the young person, but empowered her to share her story, which then will transform others. It’s a ripple effect.”
“Being able to help young folks when they might have nowhere else to turn and letting them know they are in control of their own actions and they do have people who care, and people who are there to help them — it’s important to be a part of that and it’s something that is really powerful. It’s amazing that it affects so many people, and that it’s local right here in New York City. It’s incredible to kind of be a part of an organization that is focusing on really bettering our community.”
“Over time, I started to realize that the sharing of my own experience could be a space where I didn’t feel so diminished by the experience of living through an abusive relationship. I began to share my story more often; I would talk to magazines, newspapers, and groups of young people. As demand grew, we [at Day One] began to have a conversation about figuring out if there were other folks who would do the same thing so that it wasn’t just me.”
“I think it’s important that Day One works with young people. If I were having a problem with my relationship, I would be much more likely to go to a friend than I would be to a social worker. So Day One prepares young people for situations where you have the information and the resources to put out there to your peers, and you can help them get out of the worst situation in the best way.”
“As one of the peer leaders at HSSL, I give workshops, sometimes at other schools, to inform students and get feedback on a wide range of stuff, including healthy relationships, pronouns, and more. Just last week we went to a school in Queens. We had workshops in I think 4 different classes, and I did it with two other students — 2 other peer leaders. The main topic was toxic and abusive relationships, and how other students felt about it. “
“ Young people are still experiencing more abuse than any other age group, and there are still so many messages that young people are absorbing about relationships. A lot of media glorifies harmful language and abusive behaviors, if not actual physical violence. Stalking is seen as romantic, and consent is either dismissed or not spoken of. Furthermore, domestic violence has always been an issue surrounded by shame and silence, so as a result neither adults nor young people are aware of the prevalence of abusive behaviors in relationships.”