HYANNIS – February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and the Cape’s domestic violence prevention advocates are taking the opportunity to spread awareness about the issue among the region’s younger residents.
According to Lysetta Hurge-Putnam, executive director of Independence House, one in three teens experience some form of abuse in their romantic relationships, including verbal and emotional abuse.
There are also issues with teens and social media and technology, such as constant calling or texting; insisting on reading a partner’s texts; online stalking; obsessive monitoring of social networks, and cyber-slander.
As a way to reach out to Cape teenagers this winter, Independence House has sponsored two art contests, one for seventh and eighth graders; and one for students in ninth through twelfth grades. Submissions were due on January 23.
The works will be displayed at the Hilton by Doubletree in Hyannis at an event on February 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be a performance by A Lovely Dance Studio and a talk by special guest speaker, Malcolm Astley, the father of Lauren Astley who was killed at age 18 by her boyfriend in 2011. It is a free event.
The themes of the contests vary slightly but both are meant to get teens thinking about healthy relationships. Submissions for both contests included drawings, paintings, collage, poetry, short stories, paper cutting and other types of two-dimensional creative work.
The contest for younger students had as its theme, Have a H.E.A.R.T., which stands for Healthy, Equal, Accepting, Relationships, and Together.
The theme for the older students is “iDating” and it focused on how to use technology to promote healthy relationships.
Independence, House, a non-profit that is based in Hyannis, is in its 35th year. It is the only comprehensive community-based resource on Cape Cod that provides free and confidential services to survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Besides Hyannis, Independence House has offices in Falmouth, Orleans and Provincetown, with services for adults, teens and children.
Listen below to hear Lysetta Hurge-Putnam, executive director of Independence House.