In honor of February being National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, JKFFC held its first-ever Teens for Courage Summit at Carowinds on February 1. Emceed by NBC Charlotte's Sarah French, the awareness and education event drew hundreds of high school students from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area and surrounding counties. Paola Rivera, a senior at Hough High School in Cornelius, went to the Summit with Hough Students for Courage, one of several high school Courage Clubs supported by JKFFC.
If you think high school is too early to start talking about intimate partner violence, think again.
Approximately 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner.
Nearly one in eleven female teens, and one in fifteen male teens, reported experiencing dating violence in the last year, yet three in four parents never discuss the warning signs with their children.
It's time to talk about teen dating violence, and Jamie Kimble Foundation For Courage (JKFFC) is leading the conversation. The Charlotte-based nonprofit seeks to create a future without intimate partner violence, and the best way to create that future is to start young.
Awareness among people of all ages, but especially young people, is key to the mission of the Jamie Kimble Foundation For Courage. Jan and Ron Kimble founded JKFFC in honor of their daughter Jamie, who was shot and killed at age 31 by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Her parents and the team at JKFFC hope to spare families and victims from experiencing such tragedies through education, awareness, prevention and training. "It's really important to talk about it," says Katie Osteen, faculty advisor to Hough Students for Courage. As a survivor of domestic violence, Katie is adamant about the importance of getting the topic out in the open and telling as many people as possible about the warning signs. "The more we know, and the more we talk about it, the better."
"There are obviously a lot of issues with teen dating violence and domestic violence, and there was nothing like Hough Students for Courage at my school," says Paola when asked how the club got started. "The topic really spoke to me and I thought it was a prevalent issue."
Paola and her fellow club members got to network with Courage Club members from other high schools at the Summit and create activities to take back to their school for education and awareness.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The best way to help JKFFC is to learn and share these warning signs:
1. Treating you exceptionally well at the beginning of the relationship
2. Making you feel sorry for him or her
3. Never being at fault
4. Trying to control you through constant communication
5. Separating you from your family and friends physically or emotionally or causing chaos before or during family events
6. Being overly critical
7. Searching your belongings for evidence of cheating
8. Prying into private belongings to learn more of your innermost feelings or past
9. Accessing your email, Facebook and phone records
10. Booking your calendar so it seems impossible to end the relationship
11. Systematically removing you from your existing friends with probably excuses and keeping you too busy to maintain them.
If you need help or know someone who does, visit www.enoughnc.org or call 800.799.7233 (SAFE) to learn how to get out of danger and locate the resources you need.
Remember that no one should ever be hit, shoved, slapped, punched, kicked or in any way physically assaulted in their relationship. Abuse doesn't have to be physical. If you feel intimidated, controlled by or afraid of your partner, you may be experiencing emotional or psychological abuse. Any form of abuse is a valid reason to reach out for help.
Make a donation, find out how to start a Courage Club for teens, and learn more about Jamie Kimble at jkffc.org.
Grace Kennedy is a Huntersville-based writer specializing in storytelling for nonprofits. Learn more at gracekennedy.net.