I had the pleasure this month of reading letters and essays written by former RAPP peer leaders. I must say, if you are ever discouraged with your work in the social services – listen to a young person. My goodness, the impact that the Relationship Abuse Prevention Program has had on their lives is staggering and ongoing – and in a good way. Over and over they wrote that, because of RAPP, they were in a position to help themselves and others – and they did just that.

As we gear up for the RAPP Summer Program, it’s good to remember how important RAPP is for so many teens. Here are some inspiring words from RAPP grads’:

Siobhan C – “I found strength to walk away from my unhealthy relationship for good. I found adults who actually cared, understood and listened to us. I found SUPPORT.

RAPP created a safe space where differences were accepted and celebrated. I finished high school in 2005 and was able to take this experience with me. Recently, I was able to show a dear friend of mine the nature of his relationship was unhealthy, and be the supportive person to him that RAPP taught me to be.”

Annalysa C – “I no longer felt alone. Being able to freely express myself without it being a problem and getting good feedback, made it easier for me to decide what I believed was right for my relationship.

When I was able to get out of that relationship, I applied for the Summer Peer Leadership Program, where I had the amazing chance to learn more about myself and grow as an individual. I was lucky enough to do community service, including visiting the children at a Domestic Violence shelter. That is something that will stay with me my whole life – now that I am a peer leader, I am in a position to help other people.

I am now at SUNY Albany, studying early childhood education. The Center’s RAPP services changed me mentally and emotionally.”

Nicollette F – “In the RAPP program, the Coordinators teach you that you have to be yourself because everyone else is already taken. I am now a sophomore at Lehman College, and I’m as open and trusting as ever, thanks to RAPP.

I remember the first day of the RAPP summer program we each had to write a letter to our future selves about what we thought about our current self and then how we wanted to change and grow as people. I thought that it was impossible for a person to change within just a summer. Towards the end of the program, when we were allowed to open our letters, I cried because I couldn’t believe that I was the person who had written that same letter two months before. I was a more trusting and open version of my former self, and was willing to let others in more easily. I finally found a voice, and it was a unique and strong one.”

Ebony M  – “I considered RAPP a second family. They always seemed to be there when you thought no one would be. RAPP does more than save you from the damage of an abusive relationship; it helps us become better people, knowing and understanding how to help others. I credit the RAPP program with single handedly encouraging my growth of compassion and understanding for the plight of others. I finished high school in 2006 and I am actively pursuing a degree in Social Work. I currently work in the field of social services. My RAPP counselors were an amazing influence and without the Center’s RAPP services, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”

Abraham O – “RAPP was a safe space for me, free of judgments, where I felt accepted, loved by my peers, and most importantly, safe.

RAPP taught me how to think critically about an array of topics such as: relationship abuse and domestic violence, empathy and sympathy, and loyalty and respect within a community. The RAPP program is a safe space where students could come together to explore the unknown and embrace differences. We need to create a world where people are open-minded and where students are informed about topics and issues that are very real in their lives. This to amazing program gives students the opportunity to become more informed and open-minded citizens.

I am a high school English teacher.”

Jannai S – “In RAPP, there was no judgment or peer pressure and I was able to be comfortable about being myself. Not only did I have helpful and amazing friends by my side, I also had the pleasure of working for 4 incredible leaders. Though coming from different places and backgrounds, they were able to help me become the optimistic, daring, caring, and open person that I am today. That will stay with me my whole life.

Working and being a part of the Teen Peer Leadership Program is something I will never forget. I grew to call the RAPP Coordinators and the other peer leaders, my family. I can still lean on them for anything and talk to no matter what the issue. Now I am in a position to help other people and teach the things I have learned.

I graduated high school in June 2014, and I am currently attending Medgar Evers College in the hopes of becoming an anesthesiologist. “

Just last week, a group of teens from RAPP schools across the City, gathered in the Center’s conference room to support one another applying for college scholarships – including the Center’s Deborah M. Stuckey Fund scholarship. They talked about how they wanted to finish college and give back, to help others the way they had been helped by RAPP.

 

Join me for a night of comedy to support RAPP. Domestic violence is no joke – but we can come together to Stand Up Against Domestic Violence. I hope to see you there.

– Judy Kahan

CEO of Center Against Domestic Violence