Teen Dating Violence Awareness

This message is in response to Angela Rose’s piece on Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. I would have emailed her directly, but could not locate any other contact information than this one, so please pass it along if possible. I want to first commend her on a wonderful piece—it is important that everyone can identify what is and is not appropriate behavior and how to get/give help—and thank you all at PAVE for the work you do. As a survivor of sexual assault, I truly appreciate everything organizations such as yours do for those who have been abused.

I feel the topic of relationship abuse is so vital for us to talk about as a society. There is a stigma, I believe, when it comes to relationship violence. So many people assume that abuse only occurs in married couples, that it only happens to women, and that it always comes in the vein of physical violence. We know that is not true though.

Our society needs a wakeup call to the very real dangers facing both males and females, of all ages, races, sexual orientations, and sects–dating violence occurs all the time, too often, and it needs to end.

My employer recently allowed me to write a detailed piece on dating violence. I hope that by dispelling many of the myths surrounding relationship violence and explaining what it really is, I can help someone who is in an abusive relationship recognize that they do not deserve nor should they tolerate the treatment they receive from their partner.

I would be honored if you would take a look at what I wrote, and if you like it, please feel free to share it with your readers. I just want to do my small part to make a difference and hopefully help an abuse victim persevere and get help.

Thank you for your time and again for all of the valuable work you do. You are all my heroes. I hope you enjoy my piece.



Written by: Kristin Benzinger

Keara’s Story

Just over a year ago, I went through a traumatic sexual violence experience. What started out as a care-free night out with my best friend turned into a nightmare. We started out bar-hopping in Lincoln Park- hardly a rarity for two girls going to college in the city. Without going into too much detail via email, I went from being buzzed yet coherent to waking up the next morning in a strange apartment not remembering a single thing. There was a man on the floor next to the bed I was on. I recognized him as the bouncer from the bar we were at. I was woken by my friend who was sobbing and terrified. I soon was overcome with terror as well. She told me she had just been raped and that we needed to leave. I was disoriented and couldn’t see straight, but we both managed to leave the apartment and catch a cab home- the price of our ride home was over 30$.
After spending an entire day in the hospital, I learned that the man had attempted to rape me, raped my best friend when she intervened and that we had both been drugged.
My experience with the cops and investigators was one of the most upsetting parts. That was the first time I encountered the traumatizing effects of rape culture and victim blaming. Investigators would not arrest or look for the man, even though we knew where he worked, because we had been drinking with fake IDs. Two college students at a bar underage seemed to be deserving of what happened to us. A female investigator even told me, “You know you’re lucky. I usually deal with cases where people die. You could really have gotten yourself in a bad situation.” I began to believe that I was to blame for everything that happened. That this was how the world worked, and I got in the way.
I now know this to be untrue. I went to counseling, and am currently seeking more outlets to help me cope with what happened. I’ve taken on a project to help coordinate an event on behalf of ALMAA (Advocacy, Living and Mentoring After Assault). I now run their twitter page, @ALMAACares and try and update it as much as possible. Sometimes it’s hard to go through and read articles and statistics and events that are still going on. But I know I want to fight rape culture and create a light for those effected by sexual violence. I have so many amazing people in my life right now who have proved that my fears aren’t true, and that there are amazing souls and good people out there who care. I’ve learned to stand up for myself and others and what is right. I still get scared, I struggle with extreme anxiety, but I wake up everyday wanting to move forward and fight for my happiness. I only hope that all humans are able to experience what they deserve: unconditional respect, compassion, love and acceptance.
Thank you for your time and hearing part of my story. If you are a survivor yourself, please know: you are not to blame. Though the world at times may seem like a dark and terrifying place, there is always a light. First and foremost within yourself, and your will to fight on through trauma, and also within the loving people who are there for you without judgement. You are beautiful, you are strong, you are breathing, you are fighting. You are life.”
Written by: Keara McGraw

It’s Not Just In America

I recently came across a story that made me stop and think about the bigger picture on sexual assault. So many times we think about it being something that someone does to another in secret, or at least in partial seclusion. However, there are places in the world where it is almost done for show; or done to set an example for others. I am proud to live in a country where as a female I hold the same value as a male. This is very important to me, and I do not take this lightly.

An article I came across discussed in Egypt in 2011 during the Nile’s revolutionary chaos was an act of symbolism that took seven women and started off by beating them and electrocuting them and if that wasn’t enough began to perform “virginity tests” on the woman. This was done in front of a crowd and the entire public watched on. One girl in particular was also drugged and stomped on. This is a culture where woman are not valued the way that we are here, however why was this ever acceptable anywhere to begin with?

Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton called this a “degradation of woman.” This is exactly what it is.

Another example of this degradation of woman, was in 2007 when an Arabic ad where women were depicted as two kinds of lollipops. One, whose wrapper was removed, was covered with flies (male harassment).  The other, wrapper still on, attracted minimal insect attention. Clumsy and factually incorrect, this chauvinistic logic uses the Muslim headscarf as a symbol of patriarchy and control, when in fact, one might choose to wear the veil—or not to—for a multitude of reasons.  It also erroneously equates conservative dress with an absence of harassment.

Showing these acts in public gives people a generalization of woman that we are “used” or not something of value. Though this article shows negativity among other cultures, we have to stop and be grateful that we do are valued here. Though there are many issues that still need to be addressed relating to our rights and sexual assault, it is important to remember we as people are valuable no matter what. Our choice may reflect part of who we are but they are not the entire definition of who we are.

To view the entire article visit; http://prospect.org/article/crowdsourcing-sexual-assault-prevention

Written By : Ashten Meadows

PAVE Founder on OWN

PAVE Founder Angela Rose on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) This Thursday, VDAY, 2/14, 10pmEST

Angela Rose


PAVE Founder, Angela Rose, will be on the Oprah Winfrey Network on Vday, Feb 14, 2013 at 10pmEST on the new show “I Got Away” as she shares her story of being kidnapped from a shopping mall, sexually assaulted and her journey to rise above the pain to found a national nonprofit PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment.


1 Billion Rising

On behalf of PAVE’s 50 chapters and affiliates….we RISE with Vday.org #1BillionRising
Important note: Although Angela’s story was a stranger assault, overwhelmingly sexual assault is committed by someone we know and trust. PAVE works to shatter the silence and end ALL sexual violence. WATCH ANGELA’S VIDEO BLOG ON RISING WITH VDAY



Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month!

Promoting healthy relationships, educating on teen dating violence and engaging  males and females to work together to shatter the silence & prevent the violence!

Click here for PAVE LOVE FEST pamphlet – Twitter Hashtag #TDVAM


PAVE Ambassador Sarah Rice on YouTube

PAVE Ambassador Johnna Janis on YouTube

PAVE Ambassador Jaime Gill on YouTube

Pinterest Postcard Campaign, Teen Video Contest, Downloadable Pamphlet  & Podcast from US Dept of HHS Office of Adolescent Health featuring PAVE Founder Angela Rose.

And Click here for more info from our friends at Break the Cycle!


  • Nearly 1.5 million HS students experience physical abuse from a dating partner per year in the US
  • 1 in 3 teens is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner


  • Stopping violence is everyone’s business
  • Trust your gut! If you think something is wrong, it probably is!
  • Say something when someone is being disrespectful
  • If you see something wrong, step in!
  • Speak up if you see someone intentionally getting someone drunk
  • Remind friends that sexual contact with an intoxicated person is against the law!


  • Jealousy and Distrust
  • Co-dependence
  • Fear
  • Putting You Down
  • Lack of Support for Things You Enjoy
  • Manipulation
  • Guilt for Spending Time with Friends and Family
  • Forced Sexual Contact
  • Threat of violence


  • Supportive
  • Respect of Oneself and Each Other
  • Good Communication
  • Equality
  • True Comfort in Being Your True Self
  • Your Have a Strong Friendship
  • Sense of Interdependence (Mutual Responsibility)


  • Believe every person
  • Treat them with respect
  • Be aware of victim blaming language
  • Offer them local resources
  • Be a good listener
  • Let them know that they are not alone

If you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence or sexual assault, reach out right away. The National Dating Abuse Helpline is 1-866-331-9474



PAVE Ambassador Sarah Rice on YouTube

PAVE Ambassador Johnna Janis on YouTube

PAVE Ambassador Jaime Gill on YouTube

PAVE Founder’s Book

PAVE Founder Angela Rose launched her first book “Hope, Healing & Happiness: Going Inward to Transform Your Life” on April 2, 2013 at Penn State Harrisburg!

CLICK HERE receive a free chapter and tangible empowerment tips!



Angela Rose is an author, speaker, humanitarian and entrepreneur who is passionate about helping people triumph over tragedy. Her decade of work on self-empowerment and community building has taken her across the country and abroad to speak on continuous improvement for the mind, body, and soul. Angela focuses on helping others take control of their minds, reconnect to the love and light within, and transform into their fullest potential as human beings. She has been seen on CNN, Dr. Drew, The Today Show, and TIME magazine. In 2012, the Bio Channel profiled Angela’s story of surviving abduction and assault on the show “I Survived”. CNN Headline News Morning Show featured Angela on the “Breakthrough Women” series: http://bit.ly/ZQSmtA.

Becoming Closer to the Cause

Over the past few years I worked continually to combat sexual assault, particularly on my own college campus. I led sexual assault awareness workshops where I taught students the truth about sexual abuse, combated stigmas, and provided resources about how to help a friend who survived sexual assault. I knew statistics inside and knew that 1 out of 6 college women survived rape or survived attempted rape in the past year, meaning if I had a group of 6 friends, one of them could have been a survivor of sexual assault. For a long time I felt lucky because as far as I knew, none of my friends had such experiences.

Although I felt connected to the cause, it was not until a few weeks ago that I truly grasped a direct connection to everything. As I visited my friend over winter break, I noticed something was a bit off. She was not her sarcastic funny self, but rather quiet and detached. I calmly inquired to determine what was wrong. With a pale face, she turned to me and told me that one of her friends raped her a few months ago and that her life deteriorated ever since.

On paper I knew what I was supposed to say to a friend who survives sexual assault: “No matter what it’s not your fault”, “I believe you”, “Thank you for sharing your experience with me.” However, when the situation arose right in front of me, with my own best friend, it was hard to produce the right words.

After a few minutes of silence, I managed to comfort her and listen to her story. At one point as she recounted her experience, it occurred to me: Sexual assault really can happen to anyone. While I knew this was true, it became all too real for me as I discovered the emotional turmoil my friend experienced over the past few months. Moreover, the fact that her own friend sexually assaulted her makes it all too apparent that the majority of perpetrators know their victims.

I share this story with the hope that we all remember to support our loved ones who experience sexual assault. Remember, it is not always easy to know who is a survivor of sexual abuse just by looking at them. We need to provide comfort, love, and an open-mind to our survivors. We need to allow them to share their story and truly be heard.

Written by: MK

Erin’s Law

PAVE Ambassador Erin Merryn is an author/activist/speaker who has launched a nationwide effort to pass Erin’s Law.

“Erin’s Law” requires that all public schools implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program which teaches:

  1. Students in grades preK – 5th grade, age-appropriate techniques to recognize child sexual abuse and tell a trusted adult
  2. School personnel all about child sexual abuse
  3. Parents & guardians the warning signs of child sexual abuse, plus needed assistance, referral or resource information to support sexually abused children and their families

Already state governments in Illinois, Indiana, Maine and Missouri have passed Erin’s Law.

It is now pending in eight additional states, with more to come:

  1. Georgia
  2. Michigan
  3. Minnesota
  4. Mississippi
  5. Nevada
  6. New Mexico
  7. New York
  8. Pennsylvania

Erin’s Law is named after childhood sexual assault survivor turned activist Erin Merryn, who is the founder and President of Erin’s Law, which is registered with the IRS as a 501 (c)(4) non-profit social welfare organization.

Erin has been featured on OprahMontel WilliamsGood Morning AmericaCNNTimeThe Chicago Tribune and was recently named a Glamour Woman of the Year. She has dedicated her life to preventing child sexual abuse and supporting its victims. She is determined to see to it that all 50 states pass Erin’s Law to protect millions of children from having to experience anything similar to what she did.


Mother Indicted for Raping Her Own Children

I recently came across a story that blew my mind! As we all know rapists come in all forms, shapes, sizes, backgrounds and genders. Even though we all know this we oftentimes do not stop and think about it. I came across the story of a 50 year old mother who raped and sexually assaulted her two children. It took the children 10 years to come forward and when they finally did authorities took quick and drastic action. The woman was indicted on 38 charges of sexual abuse and incest.

Once the children came forward, two other individuals came forward as well. This woman took her right as a mother and threw it out the window. Parents and adults in general have a certain level of protection towards children whether it be our own or just a child passing by. To sexually abuse any child is a horrible crime but for someone to do it to their own children is a travesty.

Though this story is detrimental to anyone who reads it, there is a positive light. Not only does it show the strength and courage that these children have to come through this and do what is right even though it is their mother, it is also a reflection on the authorities taking charge. The DA that indicted this woman and the police investigating this case left no stone unturned. This is the type of action that needs to be taken with all cases; man, woman or child.

By: Ashten Meadows


Help in the Fight

This story comes from a personal level. This is the story of a young girl who was sexually assaulted by a man more than ten years her senior! He threatened her and told her not to tell. She didn’t. She became pregnant and had the baby and all the while never revealing who the father was. When she finally turned 18 she told her family what had happened and who the child’s father was. The family began to fight to have this man prosecuted but everywhere the family turns in this small town doors as being slammed in their face. This is a tragedy in itself. What is the world coming too that this can simply be brushed aside? There is a petition circulating in hopes to make enough noise that this city takes charge and gives this man what he deserves. Please help in the fight.





By Ashten Meadows