Philly’s Women Against Abuse event focuses on dating violence among teens

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Philadelphia’s Women Against Abuse is encouraging people to take a stand against domestic violence with its 2018 iPledge campaign.

At a Wednesday noon event at City Hall to kick off the month, the organization is encouraging people to speak out against dating violence among teens.

“What we see often happens is an intergenerational cycle of domestic violence,” said Katie Young-Wildes, vice president of advancement for the organization. “And so, one of the most effective strategies in breaking that cycle is by educating young people.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that in the 12 months prior to being surveyed, about 11 percent of high school students in Philadelphia experienced physical dating violence; the number was almost identical for sexual dating violence.

Statewide, 7 percent of high school students experienced physical dating violence, while 9 percent experienced sexual dating violence.

Another report, funded by the National Institute of Justice and conducted by researchers from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, found that more than 60 percent of adolescents surveyed experienced psychological abuse.

Eighteen-year-old Leah Savin, who said she has experienced an abusive relationship,  said finding a support system is key to getting out.

“I think it’s important that when you’re in those relationships, you make sure to try and not isolate yourself,“ she said.

In light of the Brett Kavanaugh sexual assault accusations, Young-Wildes said she hopes the event and its pledge will resonate with survivors who may be reluctant to come forward.

“We hope that it encourages survivors,” she said, letting them know “that they’re not alone, and that there are many people and many organizations that believe them and are willing to stand with them.”

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