Teens take action against domestic violence

TAMPA - I sat down to watch the video, not quite sure what to expect, and then it happened. In an instant, I was back in high school. The flashbacks in my head coming in as fast as the texts beeping on the screen…

The classmate whose boyfriend just couldn’t stay away… the guy handpicking his girl’s friends… the creep ‘rushing’ the relationship in ways my friend just wasn’t ready for… There’s no sense in ‘naming names’. They are everywhere.

Teens may think domestic violence is a problem for “old” people to worry about, but the truth is, it’s affecting teenagers more than ever before. Abusers of today do much of their handy work texting, tweeting and ‘friending’ – social media used a double edged sword against the victim.

Getting teens to talk about it, much less admit to, seems impossible.

In comes Ad 2 Tampa Bay.

The group is made up of advertising professionals, all under the age of 32, who devoted 500 hours at no cost to The Spring of Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County’s only state certified domestic violence center. It’s part of the clubs annual pro-bono project for a local non-profit agency.

“We spent many late nights, weekends and any spare time designing, producing, brainstorming to make this cause and designing tactic that would reach teen girls,” explains Lindsey Howe of Ad 2 Club. “In our research and taking with The Spring DV Center, it was apparent that dating violence victims are more likely to be girls than boys.”

Four months later, the result was the I Own Me campaign.

The edgy awareness campaign, complete with a website, Facebook and Twitter pages, emphasizes a teen girl’s ability to exercise her independence. The message: you are the only one who owns your actions… your words… your body.

Asked about the images used in the I Own Me posters, pictures and Public Service Announcements, Ad 2’s Gabriel Valdivia explained:
“We used strong and bold colors such as black and red to accentuate the urgency of the matter,” said Valdivia. Poster images, for example, include teen girls bound, and in one instance gagged, with black rope and a red ‘price tag’.

“The use of the red tag serves as a metaphor of ownership over the many different aspects that make the life of a teenager – body, opinions, social life, actions, future, etc.”

“Physical abuse is obvious…but emotional abuse sometimes fails to be noticed while it is equally harmful to a teen’s self-esteem. The photography was carefully staged to portray the subtle effects of emotional manipulation in a relationship that might not be so evident in real life.”

The QR codes, dog- tags, posters and PSAs got rave reviews from the test group of Hillsborough county teenagers invited to the launch of I Own Me on Feb. 9th. Sitting in a room when the video was first played, I witnessed their reactions first hand. The girls in the room, every single one, said they felt empowered.

“As a young professional group, we are excited to use our creative talent to give back to our community,” said Tamara Whittaker, Ad 2 President. “It is unfortunate, but everyone knows someone that has been affected by teen dating violence whether they know it or not.”
Join us on Friday, Feb. 25th on Positively Tampa Bay, for a closer look at the I Own Me campaign and the minds behind the edgy campaign. For more visit: www.iown.me

Did you know…

One in five female high school students report being physically and/or emotionally abused by a dating partner, according to the Journal of American Medical Association survey. That included unwanted kissing, hugging, genital contact and sexual contact.

Nearly 25% of 14 – 17 year olds surveyed know at least 1 student who was a victim of DV and another 11% know multiple DV victims, according to research study by Empower Program of Liz Clairborn Inc.

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