A Parents’ Guide- February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month



ONE: COMMUNICATE– Start talking to your teen well before they start dating. 72% of 7th graders report they are dating.

TWO: LEAD BY EXAMPLE– Teen’s primary influence about dating is what they learn at home.

THREE: PAY ATTENTION– The second biggest dating influence is what your teen sees on TV, movies, music, video games and social media. This is a great opportunity to start a conversation about the difference between healthy and unhealthy dating. Approach communication through curiosity.

FOUR: STAY CONNECTED– Teens with high self-esteem are less likely to experience dating abuse. Look for activities that strengthen self-respect and empathy for others.

FIVE: JOIN THE CONVERSATION– Contact your teen’s principal today to express why you believe dating abuse prevention is essential. 87% of dating abuse occurs on SCHOOL GROUNDS.

ONE in THREE teens in Santa Barbara are experiencing physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or digital abuse from a dating partner” says Christy Haynes MA, Psy, Founder of What is LOVE. “Talking about dating is not an easy topic to discuss with teens and as many as 80% of parents don’t know where to start. That’s where What is LOVE can help. We have a variety of proven programs and materials that can support this We train school administrators and staff, we offer workshops for parents, and we provide community outreach materials to help teens throughout the country.”

What is LOVE has been actively providing educational school-based programs for more than two decades, and has partnered with educators in Santa Barbara County and researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara to measure the program’s effectiveness. Since 2009, the What is LOVE program has reached 33,292 teens:

96% reported an increased knowledge and understanding of dating violence
82% reported they know how to find resources and would get help for an abusive relationships Which has led to a 300% increase in teens asking for HELP.

-Excessive Texting
-Depression or anxiety
-Stops activities they enjoy
-Dating partner is extremely jealous
-Dressing differently
-Stops spending time with friends
-Decrease in grades & attendance

-How are things going?
-What are your friends’ dating relationships like?
-Why do you think someone would abuse someone they were dating?
-How do you know a relationship is healthy?
-How is your relationship going?

Christy Haynes, Founder

FREE PARENT & TEEN WORKSHOP: Thursday, April 23 at 6PM, Faulkner Gallery, Central Library, 40 East Anapamu.

Is Your Teen Dating Without Danger? Did you know that 2 out of 3 teens will experience dating abuse? What is LOVE offers a FREE Parent Workshop helping parents to identify red flags of abusive dating, practice conversation starters, and connect to school and community resources.

Unfortunately, 75% of parents don’t talk with their teens about relationships. While these numbers are startling, talking to your teen is the best way to prevent them from experiencing dating abuse.

Christy Haynes, What is LOVE founder and dating abuse prevention expert explains, “Although your teen may not tell you this, they actually want to have these conversations. By starting a conversation, you have the power to set them up to do better in school, to be safer, to be happier, and better prepared for college or a career.”

Thursday, April 23rd join us for a FREE Parent and Teen Workshop at the Faulkner Gallery located in the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 East Anapamu Street, from 6PM-7:30PM. Delish Food, Spanish Translation and Childcare provided. Community service offered too!

DID YOU KNOW? Teens who are harmed by dating abuse are more likely to do poorly in school, binge drink, attempt suicide, engage in physical fighting, and have a greater likelihood of teen pregnancy.

What is LOVE is committed to giving parents and teens the tools they need to interrupt this cycle and build healthy relationship skills. Research confirms the number one indicator for better grades, better attendance, and happier teens is building healthy relationship skills. For more information please contact Christy Haynes at 805-705-0011 or Christy@whatisloveteens.org

Teens Learn About Healthy Relationships on KEYT


February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Awareness Month

In honor of National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Awareness Month, teens have been taught about love.

Christy Haynes has been teaching students at area high schools during a program called “What Is Love.”

A six-week workshop wrapped up at the Faulkner Gallery inside the Santa Barbara Library Monday night.

Haynes invited college students from UCSB and Westmont to mentor teens.

They say abuse isn’t just physical and verbal– it is digital as well.

Teens have noticed a spike in revenge photos and hateful words posted on social media.

Haynes said parents should look out for dropping grades and truancy. She said those could be red flags relating to an unhealthy relationship.

She also said more than 70 percent seventh graders have already experienced some kind of relationship.

Click below to watch the video:


Source: http://www.keyt.com/news/teens-learn-about-healthy-relationships/31440470





Monday, February 23rdat 5:30pm

  • Downtown Central Library Faulkner Gallery
  • 40 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA


This is the message administrators and faculty at Santa Barbara Unified School District are sharing with teens as What is LOVE gears up to recognize February as National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Awareness Month

Please join:

  • Mayor Pro Tem Gregg Hart
  • Santa Barbara Youth Council
  • Council Member Cathy Murillo
  • Representative from Congress Woman Lois Capps office
  • Representative from Senator Hanna Beth Jackson office
  • Santa Barbara Public Library

Monique Limon, Board of Education member shared, “I am excited that every effort is being made to help our students be successful. This includes helping our students understand the identify unhealthy relationships. I am thankful to Christy Haynes and her organization What is LOVE for partnering with the Santa Barbara Unified School  District to change the troubling reality that ONE in THREE students in the county experiences dating abuse.”

What is DATING ABUSE? The physical, sexual, digital, verbal, psychological/emotional abuse within a dating relationship, as well as stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and may occur between a current or former dating partner. ONE in THREE teens in Santa Barbara County experience dating abuse and most never ask for help.

Love is trustDID YOU KNOW? Youth who are harmed by teen dating abuse are more likely to do poorly in school, binge drink, attempt suicide, engage in physical fighting, and have a greater likelihood of teen pregnancy. DATING ABUSE does not discriminate. Teens participating in or experiencing dating abuse come from lower-income families as well as upper income families. They represent the entire spectrum of racial and cultural colors, educational levels, and sexual orientation.

February events

  • Monday, February 23rdat 5:30 I STAND FOR HEALTHY LOVE CAMPAIGN Downtown Central Library Faulkner Gallery
  • 6-WEEK HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WORKSHOPS: Begin this month at every high school
  • TEEN ART WALL INSTALLATION AND ACTIVITIES: Located in the main Lobby of the Santa Barbara Public Library, 40 East Anapamu.
  • Check out a book from the Library February Reading list in the Teen Corner
  • Sign the I STAND FOR HEALTHY LOVE pledge at www.whatisLOVEteens.org
  • TAKE the dating quiz
  • Post a LOVE IS … healthy love quality on Social Media #whatisloveteens located in the Teen Corner.



For more information please contact Christy Haynes, What is LOVE Founder at (805-705-0011).                

Community Partners and Sponsors:

  • Santa Barbara Central Library

Contact: Jayne LeeYouth and Teen Services Outreach Coordinator

Phone: 805-564-5646 jlee@SantaBarbaraCA.gov

  • Santa Barbara Youth Council

Contact: Susan Young (805) 897-2650 SYoung@santabarbaraca.gov



Have you or anyone you know ever been in a relationship of any sort which was affected by someone’s negative or unhealthy body image? If you have, then you know how much of a downer it is and how it can affect every aspect of that person’s daily life.

A lot of the women who have contacted me recently in response to my blog have shared about their struggles throughout their entire lives with their own body image as it relates to their sense of self worth. Many of these women are unsuspecting: seemingly healthy, fit and confident people. But the truth is that no matter her shape, size or weight, many women are trained from a very young age to learn to hide these “imperfections”.

And so the point is that it’s not actually about the body so much as about the fact that we are MISSING OUT ON LIFE by being obsessed with our bodies, our weight, and our appearance. The truth is that it is simply a huge time suck be forever worried about the size of various parts of one’s body. This is time that could be otherwise allocated to doing AWESOME THINGS and to utilizing one’s talents and energy to create and be engaged in life.

Many readers said they experienced body shame because so many of us feel or have felt as if we are weaker-spirited or weaker-minded if we feel bad about our bodies…Strangely this is NOT often a function of body fat percentage or pant size. In many cases, women feel ashamed and self-conscious regardless of how our bodies actually look or feel. This is interesting isn’t it?

This is what I call a social epidemic. And we are 100% able to change and heal it. It begins with letting go of the shame and guilt by using your intelligence and heart to understand that this way of thinking is learned, it is not natural, and it is not YOU.

The other fascinating aspect of the feedback I’ve received is that so many women used words like “courage” and “bravery” when commenting about the images of me. Yes, I suppose it is brave to put pictures of oneself showing some skin online in front of peer, family, and public groups. Totally. I agree. But that’s not actually what most people were referring. See, it has become very normalized for thin women and models to be in our faces in the media with very little clothing on, but when a bigger voluptuous woman does so, it is DARING, a bit taboo and totally courageous!

The reality is, I’m just another woman posing in front of a camera! My waist is thicker and cheeks are fuller. So it’s really not about the amount of skin being shown, for we see hundreds of images every day in the media showing equivalent amounts of skin. The fine print in what some readers are really saying (perhaps only subconsciously) is: “It isn’t culturally accepted to have curves, (weight in the areas where most women naturally do) and so the bigger curvy woman is less attractive, less sexy.” And so, for a curvy woman to celebrate and show her body, instead of hide, camouflage or reject it is considered… SO BRAVE!

Take a minute to dissect all of this. I encourage any readers who had this response to question the underlying/unconscious belief from where it came. You may find that this is very likely a culturally constructed belief, which was absorbed at some point in your socialization and that maybe it has also affected the way you look at and treat your own body.

I imagine many people felt the dual reaction of both sadness and empowerment from this website, which are both awesome and authentic responses. So yes! -Be sad, grieve, be angry, cry and scream (highly recommended for releasing a bit of rage). And then afterward, forgive, move on…and get fierce. Things are changing fast. And YOU are the agent of this change.

Your grace and sense of self are all you have.

Written by Chantal Peterson
For more on this topic, visit www.thegrandorange.com
Photo by Bettina Norton http://bettinavanessa.com

Mayor Helene Schneider, Assemblymember Das Williams, and Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson recognize What is Love


The WIL Program is proudly supported by Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson:

image007“I commend the “What is Love” organization for holding this event in our community to bring awareness to the very important issue of teen dating violence. When nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year, that indicates a larger problem,” said Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson. “We must send a message to our youth that is not appropriate behavior and there is help and support available. I look forward to continuing my work with ‘What is Love’ to encourage proactive solutions for teens in my district and throughout the state of California”



Assembly Member Das Williams Recognizes What is LOVE

“True love does not know or accept violence,” said Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara. “Teens need to make healthy choices and under no circumstances should anyone accept verbal, emotional or physical abuse.
What is Love is an important organization in this battle for awareness. I commend them and others who take a stand against violence.”





What is LOVE . . . “exemplifies how important it is to spread the message about love as opposed to talking about hate and finding ways to stop the violence”



Youth Leaders from each Santa Barbara High School were invited to apply for the Peer Educator/Leadership training. Teens care deeply about their friends and their relationships and they hold the key in promoting healthy relationships, bringing awareness to abusive relationship behaviors, and creating social change. Christy Haynes M.A. Psy, selected leaders to participate in an intensive training to support a better understanding of abusive relationships and how to promote healthy relationships. The training covers warning signs, elements of healthy relationships, referrals for help, cyber literacy as well as peer lead outreach campaign initiatives.

“If we are to interrupt this cycle of dating abuse, this must begin with the youth voice”, said Christy Haynes M.A. Psy.



NEW YORK, October 2014: From violence to verbal taunts, abusive dating behavior is pervasive among America’s adolescents, according to a new federally funded survey. It says a majority of boys and girls who date describe themselves as both victims and perpetrators.

Sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, the National Survey on Teen Relationships and Intimate Violence was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, a prominent research center that provided preliminary results to The Associated Press. Input came from a nationwide sample of 667 youths aged 12-18 who’d been dating within the past year and who completed a self-administered online questionnaire.

Nearly 20 percent of both boys and girls reported themselves as victims of physical and sexual abuse in dating relationships — but the researchers reported what they called a startling finding when they asked about psychological abuse, broadly defined as actions ranging from name-calling to excessive tracking of a victim. More than 60 percent of each gender reported being victims and perpetrators of such behavior.

The survey found no substantive differences in measures by ethnicity, family income or location.
Elizabeth Mumford, one of the two lead researchers for the survey, acknowledged that some behaviors defined as psychological abuse — such as insults and accusations of flirting — are commonplace but shouldn’t be viewed as harmless.

“None of these things are healthy interactions,” she said. “It’s almost more of a concern that our gut reaction is to accept this as natural.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in its campaigns against teen dating violence, also stresses the potential seriousness of psychological abuse.

For assistance, counseling, and referrals to local advocacy centers, please call the appropriate hotline below. You are not alone.

General Support and Help by Text:

Text “LISTEN” to 741741 to chat with a compassionate, trained counselor about anything.

Dating Abuse Help by Phone:

National Teen Dating Abuse 24-Hour Helpline
866-331-8453 (24/7) 1-866-331-9474/tty:



Santa Barbara, CA September 22, 2014: School principals, counselors, parents and teens have resoundingly expressed an immediate need for continued and expanded in-school dating violence prevention programs. Dr. Cash, Superintendent of Santa Barbara Unified School District, lead an effort to secure a contract with What is LOVE to provide this programming to all secondary schools beginning in the Fall of 2014. School board members unanimously approved the contract in June. ONE in THREE teens in Santa Barbara County experience dating abuse and most never ask for help.

Monique Limon, Board of Education member shared, “I am excited that every effort is being made to help our students be successful. This includes helping our students understand and identify unhealthy relationships. I am thankful to What is LOVE for partnering with the Santa Barbara Unified School District to change the troubling reality that one in three students in the county experiences dating abuse.”

This type of violence can have a profound impact on the physical, emotional and academic growth of a youth with short and long-term consequences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that youth who are harmed by dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, to report binge drinking, attempt suicide, engage in physical fighting, and have a greater likelihood of teen pregnancy. Together, they create lasting harm that affects the victim of abuse, their friends, families, schools and surrounding communities.

What is LOVE (WIL) is committed to addressing this crisis utilizing restorative justice principles, innovative outreach employing technology, the power of storytelling, and a teen driven awareness campaign. Their programs currently include a school assembly format, workshops for youth, parents and school staff, and outreach materials.

Christy Haynes MA Psy., founder and director of prevention for What is LOVE said, “I am so grateful for this new partnership with Santa Barbara Unified School District, we can continue to provide this essential programming to Santa Barbara Schools and we can grow our outreach and programming. This new relationship with SBUSD will provide an opportunity to raise funds for more teen stories for a documentary, develop mobile APPS helping teens identify abusive love, train additional peer educators at UCSB, expand our outreach capabilities with on-line resources, provide educational workshops to parents & teachers, and provide every school in Santa Barbara awareness materials with resources for help”.