October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  
Domestic violence does not discriminate.  
Domestic violence affects every single community, as well as every individual within that community.  
Look around.   How many physically abused women are hiding behind large, dark sunglasses and long sleeves?  
How many verbally abused women are walking around with the term “worthless” on their forehead?  
How many sexually abused women are walking around shouting “Rape!”?  
How many financially abused women are walking around begging for money?  Zero.  
It is difficult to know what goes on behind closed doors, but what is occurring behind those doors is your business.  
It’s your business because every year the cost of intimate partner violence, physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse, in the United States exceeds $5.8 billion.  
Of that total, $4.1 billion is spent on direct medical and health services and $1.8 billion accounts for productivity loss.  
Aside from the trauma, mental health issues, homelessness, and financial burdens that domestic violence causes, it is also known that men who witnessed domestic violence as children are twice as likely to abuse their partners versus men who grew up in non-violent homes, thus the cycle of domestic violence continues.  
What is occurring behind closed doors is your business.
Last year, July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019, Project Response served 142 survivors of domestic and sexual violence from our five-county service area, Johnson, Nemaha, Pawnee, Otoe, and Richardson counties.   
Breaking the cycle of domestic violence must begin at a young age.  
Youth growing up in violent homes often view that behavior as normal and the message being portrayed is that relationships are about power and control.  
It is unlikely that youth growing up in violent homes are receiving education from their care takers on what healthy relationships look like, thus the education must be presented in a different environment.
Our agency, Project Response, is educating community youth within the school systems on what healthy boundaries and relationships look like.  
This is done through the curriculum Safe Dates.  
Safe Dates is an evidence-based dating abuse prevention program for ages 13-17.  
This is a ten-week curriculum that defines caring relationships as well as dating abuse, explains why people abuse, how to help friends in an unhealthy relationship, overcoming gender stereotypes, discussing how youth feel and how they deal, discussion around equal power through communication in relationships, and lastly preventing dating sexual abuse.   
Currently, this Fall semester, we are teaching Safe Dates in Falls City Public School, HTRS Public School, Palmyra/ Bennet School, and Johnson County Central Public School.  
This is our second year of teaching this curriculum.  
We can say that every student who has participated in this program has increased their knowledge, based off their pre and post exams, around what healthy relationships look like and how to prevent dating abuse.
 Safe Dates is just one of the many ways that Project Response is trying to break the cycle of domestic violence. How are you trying to help break the cycle?
If you or anyone you know is being abused, feel free to call us at 1-800-456-5764.  All services are confidential and free.