Shattering

 

fall10-coverIn her recent volunteer work with a Bloomington area shelter, Gabrielle participated in presentations to many Indiana high schools and junior highs in which surveys helped measure student attitudes about what was acceptable and healthy behavior in a relationship… and what was not. “I couldn’t believe the results,” says Gabrielle. “Examples of verbal, and even physical abuse like slapping and hitting, seemed okay to a lot of these kids.” As Miss Indiana, Gabrielle is making it her mission to change that.

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In her recent volunteer work with a Bloomington area shelter, Gabrielle participated in presentations to many Indiana high schools and junior highs in which surveys helped measure student attitudes about what was acceptable and healthy behavior in a relationship… and what was not. “I couldn’t believe the results,” says Gabrielle. “Examples of verbal, and even physical abuse like slapping and hitting, seemed okay to a lot of these kids.” As Miss Indiana, Gabrielle is making it her mission to change that.

Gabrielle’s platform is called “Empowerment from the Start,” and it fills a real need in the fight against domestic violence. As Gabrielle says, “Prevention is what’s going to interrupt the cycle of violence, and that has to begin when kids are just starting to date. That’s what’s going to empower the students to make their own decisions about healthy relationships before they find themselves in an abusive one.”

Gabrielle is working within the existing network of domestic violence shelters to spread her message. She explains, “In no way do I consider myself a domestic violence expert. My goal is to help define it. I let people know that there is a shelter in their area that is ready and willing to help. My hope is that they will take the step of contacting a local shelter, and work toward establishing a prevention program in the school.”

Gabrielle was drawn to the issue of domestic violence because of her own exposure to a troubled relationship. “Twelve years ago,” says Gabrielle, “my mother remarried and the relationship quickly became verbally abusive. Seeing that day in and day out affected me in ways I didn’t even realize.” She explains, “I struggled with watching my mother go through this, knowing that it was wrong, and trying not to be angry about it. It took some time for me to come to terms with, and deal with, my feelings.”

From her own family experience her advice to individuals suffering from domestic violence. “Be honest with yourself about what you’re going through,” says Gabrielle. “Most of the teens I’ve talked with know when they’re experiencing something that isn’t right. I tell them, ‘Find someone in your life you can be open and honest with. And if you don’t have someone you feel you can trust, seek out your local domestic violence resources.'” She emphasizes, “Those resources are there, and they’re available to everyone.”

Sheltering Wings offers a variety of speakers and programs designed to educate the community about recognizing and preventing domestic violence. To learn more about the issue of teen dating violence, visit the following websites:

www.shelteringwings.org/getting-help/teen-dating-violence
http://www.loveisrespect.org
http://www.loveisnotabuse.com
http://www.cdc.gov/chooserespect
http://www.thatsnotcool.com

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Shared Blessings Fall 2011