The past few months have been very busy for us here at the Center Against Domestic Violence. We are still working to save our Teen Relationship Abuse Prevention Program (RAPP) which is in danger of being slashed from New York City’s budget. This Citywide education program reaches 50,000 teens annually – it’s the largest such program in the country. RAPP operates on a 3 million dollar budget, that’s only $60 per student. It’s a program that works and it’s cost effective.

While we have been focusing our attention and energy saving RAPP, we have seen a flood of press about teen dating violence and intimate partner abuse. The realities of dating abuse hit the mainstream press with shocking force. In the ten years the Center has coordinated RAPP, I have seen relationship abuse affect young people regardless of wealth, education or race. Now, as cases like the brutal murder of 22 year old Yeardley Love at the University of Virginia this month, or the shocking bullying-related suicide of Phoebe Prince in Massachusetts in January, there is a national outcry to protect these young people from relationship violence.

What can we learn from these tragedies? How could these terrible losses have been prevented? We must raise awareness in our communities. It is only through education and support we can hope to affect change. CADV pioneered RAPP ten years ago because we saw this need. We asked women in shelters when they first experienced domestic violence and overwhelming the response was “with my first high school boyfriend.” Think about that and remember that 50,000 teens will lose the education, support and counseling that can prevent them from either becoming victims or perpetrators of abuse. We know this works. We have seen young women return to school after leaving abusive boyfriends. We have worked with young LGBTQ teens struggling not only with abuse from their peers and partners but abuse from home.

At the Center and specifically through RAPP we teach respect. This respect has impacts far beyond the walls of the class room. It gives teens in abusive relationships the tools and strength to leave and teaches them to respect themselves and others. We’ve seen it change RAPP teens, where more than 90 percent graduate high school and go on to higher education.

Given current events the answer is not cutting these programs but finding ways to expand them. Please, continue to support CADV as we fight for life saving programs like RAPP.

Help save RAPP1

Let NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg know you support RAPP. Click here to reach the Mayor!

RAPP on youtube

Click here to see hundreds of RAPP students and alums on the steps of New York’s City Hall