MILWAUKEE, WI — Teen dating violence and abusive dating relationships are the focus of a new, multi-faceted public awareness campaign being launched today by Verizon Wireless, in an unprecedented collaboration with Milwaukee-area schools and local domestic violence agencies.
Grammy Award-winner, activist and author Naomi Judd, herself a domestic violence survivor, helped kick off the new "Dating Shouldn't Hurt" campaign at the Milwaukee High School of the Arts, along with leaders of several participating domestic violence organizations and representatives from Milwaukee Public Schools. Judd was in Milwaukee to speak at the "From the Heart" Women's Lecture Series, powered by SMART TALK®.
"Statistics tell us that one out of five Milwaukee girls will be physically or sexually abused by a dating partner before she graduates from high school," said Tracy Nolan, Region President of Verizon Wireless.
"This means that of the 12,000 girls attending public schools in Milwaukee, 2,400 of them possibly will be victims of dating abuse before graduation," said Nolan. "We find that to be a staggering statistic, and we are launching this campaign to bring greater attention to the problem and to the lasting negative impact it can have on young people."
Poster Campaign Highlights Forms of Abuse, Where to Go for Help
The initial phase of the campaign features two partner abuse awareness posters that are being distributed and made available to public and private high schools in Milwaukee. The free posters illustrate verbal statements that often can precede physical or sexual abuse. Each poster prominently displays the telephone numbers of local domestic violence agencies for counseling or other help.
The posters will be displayed on bulletin boards and in hallways of schools. Both posters highlight common phrases of verbal abuse that frequently are used to intimidate and control victims, and can foreshadow more violent behavior.
"Verbal and emotional abuse often leads to physical abuse," said Carmen Pitre, executive director of the Task Force on Family Violence in Milwaukee. "Our goal is to educate young people to recognize the early signs of partner abuse, which can include threats, emotional abuse, harassment or stalking to control partner behavior."
The posters will be distributed to all Milwaukee Public High Schools this spring and early next fall. "We want our students to know they don't have to tolerate emotional, sexual or physical abuse at any time, under any circumstance," said Dr. Dan Donder, spokesperson for MPS.
School Assemblies, Community Forum to Feature National Teen Dating Violence Expert
The second phase of the "Dating Shouldn't Hurt" campaign involves Verizon Wireless working with a coalition of local domestic violence agencies, private schools and other organizations to address teen dating violence through school and community presentations. Among the presenters on May 4-5 will be Dr. Jill Murray, a nationally recognized teen-dating expert who addresses thousands of students and parents at high schools nation-wide each year about abusive relationships. The presentations immediately precede prom season.
For more information about the partner abuse initiative, contact Carolyn Schamberger at Verizon Wireless (847) 619-4282 or Susie Falk (414) 291-7620. Organizations interested in receiving the posters may email requests to: PartnerAbuse@VerizonWireless.com.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 37.5 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/verizonwireless.