Bringing awareness to teen dating violence


Many will think of February as the month for Valentine’s Day, Black History Month, or even Groundhog Day or Mardi Gras. Often-overlooked, February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Teens aren’t the only individuals affected by this issue – their parents, teachers, friends, and communities are also a part of spreading awareness and teaching prevention.

Delaware County District Library, in partnership with Strengthening Families, the United Way of Delaware County, HelpLine, Delaware City Schools, and Delaware County Against Human Trafficking Coalition, will be hosting a virtual author talk and book discussion with Amber Smith, author of New York Times bestselling novel “The Way I Used to Be.”

The talk will take place at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22 using the Zoom platform. Teens (recommended ages 14 and older) and adults are invited to pick up a copy of “The Way I Used to Be” at any Delaware Library location, read the story, then join the discussion with the author. Registration is required and can be made at by clicking the Events tab.

“The Way I Used to Be” is a debut novel that realistically examines the lasting effects of trauma on love, relationships and life (School Library Journal, starred review). Shattered when she is raped by her best friend’s brother, high school student Eden navigates the terrible pain of trauma and broken friendship while finding the courage to reveal what happened. Readers of Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak” will find similar traditions and styles in Smith’s novel.

If you or someone you know is currently in an unhealthy relationship, please text LOVEIS (love is) to 22522, call 1-866-331-9474, or chat live with the experts available at Trained advocates are available 24/7 to offer support, education, and advocacy to teens and young adults (as well as friends and family) with questions or concerns about dating and relationships. Services are always free and confidential.

Locally, HelpLine of Delaware & Morrow Counties is home to the Sexual Assault Response Network (SARN). SARN advocates are available to assist survivors at the hospital and with law enforcement immediately following an assault and can help connect a survivor to the resources at HelpLine and in our community. The 24-hour confidential support line can be reached by calling 800-684-2324 or by texting HELPLINE to 898211.

Nora Flanagan, HelpLine’s SARN coordinator, will be at the book discussion to provide supportive information and resources for those who are sexual assault survivors or know someone who is. Below you’ll find titles of nonfiction works that speak to the culture and courage of sexual assault survivors.

• “Shout” by Laurie Halse Anderson. A poetic memoir and urgent call-to-action by the award-winning author of “Speak” blends free-verse reflections with deeply personal stories from her life to rally today’s young people to stand up and fight the abuses, censorship and hatred of today’s world.

• “Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture” by Roxane Gay. Covering a vast array of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to accounts of child molestation, a series of authors, in this thought-provoking collection of first-person essays edited by the author of “Bad Feminist,” tackle rape, assault and harassment head on.

• “The #MeToo Movement” by Peggy Parks. Although sexual harassment has been a known problem for a very long time, the prevalence was mostly based on educated guesses, rather than actual research. But #MeToo helped change that, serving as a catalyst for more groups to start collecting information. Along with the fear of losing their jobs, the likelihood of co-worker retaliation often stops people from reporting sexual harassment.

• “I Have the Right To: A High School Survivor’s Story of Sexual Assault, Justice, and Hope” by Chessy Prout with Jenn Abelson. A young survivor tells her searing, visceral story of sexual assault, justice and healing in this gut-wrenching memoir.

By Nicole Fowles

Glad You Asked

If you have a question that you would like to see answered in this column, mail it to Nicole Fowles, Delaware County District Library, 84 E. Winter St., Delaware, OH 43015, or call us at 740-362-3861. You can also email your questions by visiting the library’s web site at or directly to Nicole at [email protected]. No matter how you contact us, we’re always glad you asked!

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