In the summer of 2005, the YWAT wrote letters to Mayor Daley asking that he proclaim October 17-23 2005 as TEEN DATING VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK.  The Mayor issued a proclamation which read in part:

“I, Richard M Daley, Mayor of the City of Chicago, do hereby proclaim October 17th to 23rd, 2005 to be TEEN DATING VIOLENCE AWARENESS WEEK IN CHICAGO, and urge all Chicagoans to recognize the important contributions that Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team has made to our community.”

The Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (YWAT) partnered with the Chicago Public Schools, the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence, and the Region 1 YouthNet to raise awareness about teen dating violence.  We organized several events during the week of October 17th including a train the trainer workshop where we taught 10 students from Morgan Park and Marshall high schools how to conduct their own teen dating violence workshops.  Ten other high schools participated in the week by putting up teen dating violence awareness posters and/or sponsoring their own workshops about the issue – these included:

Sullivan High School [posters and tabling]

Roosevelt H.S. [posters]

St. Scholastica [posters]

Lane Tech H.S. [posters]

Prologue H.S. [posters and workshops]

Tilden H.S. – [posters and workshops]

North Lawndale College Prep H.S. [posters]

Manley H.S. [posters]

Jones College Prep [posters]

Senn High School [posters]

On October 18th 2005, the YWAT sponsored “No More Violence against Our Sistas” – a film screening and panel discussion.  Young women from several organizations including the YWAT, the Young Women’s Empowerment Project (YWEP), the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC) and Alternatives (Girlworld) spoke about how girls across Chicago are taking action on issues of violence in their lives and communities.  The event was extremely well attended with over 225 people (youth and adults) packing Depaul University to listen to these amazing young women.  This event was filmed and aired on CAN-TV Channel 21 on December 4, 2005.  “No More Violence against Our Sistas” also served as a fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Katrina.  $125 was raised through the sale of key chains and individual contributions; all proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross.


  1. The YWAT was able to secure a proclamation from Mayor Daley declaring TDV Awareness Week from October 17th to the 23rd 2005.  In December 2005, Congress followed suit by declaring a National TDV Awareness and Prevention Week from February 6-10 2006.
  2. Twelve Chicago Public Schools participated in TDV Awareness Week.
  3. 10 youth were trained to present their own TDV workshops at their local high schools.  The group included two young men.
  4. The YWAT hosted a film screening and panel discussion during TDV Awareness Week further exposing the public to the issue.
  5. Mary Mitchell from the Chicago Sun Times wrote a column about teen dating violence to coincide with the end of the week.  The YWAT reached out to the Sun Times by sending a press release, following up with Cheryl Jackson, a reporter who has written about the YWAT in the past and was ultimately interviewed by Ms. Mitchell.  We also referred her to the principal of Sullivan High School [a school attended by two YWAT members] and to Ms. Standifer who organized the workshops at Tilden high school.

Love is NOT Blind: Taking Action against Teen Dating Violence – A Youth-led Conference

On February 10th 2007, the YWAT hosted a day-long youth-led conference at Depaul University.  Over 125 people participated in this conference which included six workshops, a teen speakout, steppers, and a screening of the YWAT film “Real Talk.”  The following is a list of the workshops that were offered at the conference:

Harm Reduction Options for Girls in the Sex Trade (by the Young Women’s Empowerment Project) – In this workshop, we engage girls to question why the sex trade exists, why girls are involved and what can be done about it, dramatically increasing their knowledge about the sex trade and making that information known in their communities.  YWEP will address relationship violence through the harm reduction strategies we use for addressing the sex trade.  We will be teaching information, tips and skills the YWEP community uses everyday to make positive change.  We believe in making a situation safer without exit and this training will show ways to do this successfully.  This training is for girls in violent situations facilitated by girls with the similar life experience.

Media Violence (by Females United for Action) – This fun, interactive and engaging workshop will explore media ownership, portrayals of people in the media, particularly women and girls, and how these images translate into violence against ourselves and each other.  Participants will also have the opportunity to get into some juicy discussion about the process of making positive changes in what we are accustomed to seeing.

Teen Dating Violence 101 (by Fighting for Relationship Equality through Education) – This workshop will address the dynamics of teen dating violence.  In particular, workshop participants will learn to:

  • Identify and demystify myths about TDV.
  • Identify the warning signs of an abusive relationship.
  • Delineate a teen’s rights and responsibilities in a dating relationship
  • Access resources to address TDV

Resisting Violence through Spoken Word (by AquaMoon) will be a creative safe space where youth will receive writing and performance tools, resources, feedback, and encouragement to create written and performance-based poems/prose about gender violence.  Participants will be encouraged to empower themselves through creative expression and to let go of inhibitions of being silenced and of personal insecurities.  Pieces created during this session may be shared at the Speakout portion of the conference.

It’s Not Just One Thing: Young Women’s Oppression and Resistance (by YWAT) — This youth-led workshop will highlight the way that young women are treated under the current system. As young women of color, we see our mothers, sisters, and friends going through a lot of stuff.  We have also witnessed and experienced a culture that is increasingly hostile to young women of color.  This is evidenced by the Bush Administration’s attack on choice, pushing abstinence-only measures in our schools, the media images that we are bombarded by every day and the very real assaults on our bodies and selves.  We will talk about the ways that YWAT has tried to resist violence in our lives.  This workshop is interactive and discussion-based.

In this workshop, participants will:

  • probe the roots of injustice against women and girls
  • examine how the oppression of women plays out in society
  • learn about how young women are resisting and organizing to address key issues

Engaging Young Men as Allies (by YWAT and male allies) – This co-ed youth-led workshop will address men’s role in helping to end sexism and violence against women and girls.  This workshop will suggest concrete ways that men can be allies to women and girls.  It will also provide concrete activities developed by the YWAT and its male allies that you can use with young men in your communities to start a discussion about gender violence.

On the Thursday (2/8/07) before the conference, the YWAT was referenced in a front page article in the Chicago Tribune titled “When Domestic Violence Starts Young.”  Nykia Carter who has been involved with the YWAT was featured in the article.

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