Story by Charlotte Dekle
Associate Feature Editor
The South Pasadena Women’s Club held a teen dating violence webinar with non-profit organization Peace Over Violence (POV) on Wednesday, Feb. 23. As part of their various health and wellness sessions, the club decided on a presentation in conjunction with POV to raise awareness of teen relationship violence.
POV is a social justice service founded in 1971 by feminist activists. POV’s programs include emergency, intervention, prevention, education and advocacy services that are offered in Los Angeles and West San Gabriel Valley.
The Women’s Club’s collaboration with POV began with liaison Anne Bagasao, who is a member of both organizations. The Women’s Club was looking to expand their evening programming to more relevant topics.
“Originally, we wanted to do programming that was available to the community and fill the gap. So we thought [of doing] a health and wellness series,” Bagasao said, “As we were thinking about what we could do in the different months, I said, February is teen dating awareness month which falls under health and wellness so we could get a presenter for that.”
Due to coronavirus, Peace Over Violence coordinator Ana Rodriguez works directly in schools local to her in Pico Union, Westlake, and Rampart. When the Women’s Club reached out to POV, Rodriguez pivoted to work on a Zoom presentation for the South Pasadena community.
The presentation began with stories of young victims of intimate partner violence, including three women who met tragic ends at the hands of their partners.
“Violence is preventable. If we can learn it, we can unlearn it. Violence is not healthy for people and other living things. If we can see it, we can stop it. Silence is violence. If we can talk about it, we can change it.” POV’s mission statement reads.
POV reached out to middle schools and high schools with these presentations. They decided to focus on teen dating relationships specifically because it was an underreported section of the population.
“Roughly 1.5 million high school boys and girls in the US admit to being intentionally hit or physically harmed by their partner. Violent behavior often begins between 6th and 12th grade. Eight states in the US do not consider violent dating relationships domestic abuse,” the presentation read.
Teen dating violence is a pattern of behavior where one person uses intimidation, threats of, or actual physical, emotional or sexual violence in order to maintain power and control over their partner where one or more partners are teens.
The presentation became more granular with the Teen, Power, and Control Wheel with different categories: peer pressure, isolation/exclusion, sexual coercion, threats, minimizing/deny/blame, intimidation, using social status, anger/emotional abuse. Additionally, Rodriguez broke down the specificities of consent and the differences between teen and adult relationship violence.
Various participants shared their individual stories surrounding domestic violence and abuse. Rodriguez herself could relate to the topic of sexual violence among teenagers.
“I would say I was a troubled youth. I was randomly put into an elective class that Peace Over Violence was leading,” Rodriguez said, “Now, years later, I am leading that elective class that I took in high school.”
As the presentation ended, Rodriguez went into detail on how to shine a light on youth violence, including deconstructing unhealthy gender norms, supporting teens’ agencies, and safety planning. She also discussed helping them create healthy and clear boundaries, supporting them in making decisions about their bodies, supporting their safety in and out of their home, and helping identify what makes them feel loved.
POV also has a six-week youth leadership institute internship where they are educated on all of the aspects. The Women’s Club will be hosting a presentation about the 50th anniversary of Title IX on Wednesday, March 2 at 7 p.m.