Local Treasures with Pia: Take a stand against dating abuse

Spokane, Washington – Most people date at some point in their lives. No matter a person’s age it can be tricky to navigate both the dating environment and budding intimate personal relationships, but youth are especially vulnerable to dating abuse when they start dating.

Create Your Statement, Combat Dating Abuse is a local program that has reached more than 11,000 youth in the ten years it has been around. It also recently received a grant from the Avista Foundation.

“It’s really important for me to say that we don’t encourage dating,” said Jenny Moeller, founder and executive director of Create Your Own Statement, Combat Dating Abuse. “We’d prefer they don’t date. But we are not naïve and we know they are going to date.”

Moeller said the program aims to show youth that they don’t need a partner to feel complete or successful, and that they certainly don’t need a partner to tell them how to dress, or who to hang out with, or which activities to go to.

“This goes for both boys and girls. We hope to show them how to set boundaries and what a healthy relationship looks like,” Moeller said. “If they date, we want them to date with good boundaries and respect.”

Create Your Statement is in some middle- and high schools where it runs a series of classes for young men and women. Create Your Statement also works with local scout troops and holds classes both in the Spokane and the Coeur d’Alene-area.

Bullying and controlling via social media is a very common problem for young people, Moeller said, but other controlling behavior is brought up in the classes as well. She added that Create Your Statement encourages young people to volunteer and get involved in activities they are passionate about.

“We feel like being involved with something you are really passionate about can be very grounding for a young person,” Moeller said. “Dating violence is not a gender issue – it’s not about sexual orientation, or how you identify. It’s something that can happen to anyone.”

At Avista, we recognize our unique position gives us the chance to contribute in an impactful way and make a real difference in people's lives. Since 2002, the Avista Foundation has made grants totaling over $13 million to organizations that support vulnerable and limited income populations, education, and economic and cultural vitality. For more information on grant applications and geographical areas covered, please visit avistafoundation.com.

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