At the first-ever Teen Dating Violence Awareness Rally today, Mayor Michael Hancock took the mike and told a story about what he called "the Chris Brown and Rihanna situation." One day, his teenage daughter and her friends were watching the former on television and, in Hancock's words, going "goo-goo, gaa-gaa." Then Hancock's daughter mentioned that her dad didn't like Chris Brown.
"They were like, 'How can you not like Chris Brown? He's so fine!'" Hancock said, imitating a high-pitched teenage girl and soliciting a laugh from the crowd of fifty spectators in the lobby of the Wellington Webb building. When Hancock explained to his daughter's friends that he didn't like him "because of what he did to Rihanna," one had a ready answer. According to Hancock, the girl said of Rihanna, "She must have done something to make him do that."
"I went on a tirade that must have embarrassed my daughter," said Hancock, whose sister was killed by an ex-boyfriend in 2002, a loss he has said caused him "unspeakable pain."
"We have to break that cycle," he said, whether it's Chris Brown or the young man dating your daughter. He added, "It's not okay to put your hands on a woman. Period."
Advocates and state officials hope this message is heard loud and clear in February, which is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Ruth Glenn, the director of the state Domestic Violence Program, said participants decided to hold a rally this year because more people are realizing it's a problem. In her words, "We're hoping we can begin to have some larger conversations on working with young people so we can prevent cycles of violence that may be occurring as they grow up and go into adulthood."
Hancock's speech, in which he mentioned city efforts to build a one-stop domestic-violence center that would house legal resources, counselors and shelter all under one roof, was followed by a skit performed by eight students from Project PAVE, which works with students at East and West high schools to end relationship violence. The skit recounted some of the numbers associated with domestic violence.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine," the boys said.
"One woman is abused every nine seconds," the girls answered.
Ellen Stein Wallace of the Denver Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and Ginger Sherlock of the Denver City Attorney's Office also spoke, telling rally attendees about a planned anti-domestic-violence ad campaign. The campaign, which will likely launch in 2013, will be modeled after a successful campaign in New Zealand. "We want to create a community that says domestic violence is not okay," Stein Wallace said.
The rally also featured videos made by several advocacy agencies, including the TONI Connection, a nonprofit dedicated to the legacy of Toni Clark, who was killed by her boyfriend in 2008. Watch some of the videos below:
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