Our four Safe Public Spaces Mentees are half-way through their projects. This week we are featuring their blog posts about how the projects are going so far. This post is from our team in the USA. Their projects are supported by SSH donors. If you would like to donate to support the 2016 mentees, we would greatly appreciate it!
Hey, I’m Tena, the founder of Me=You: Sexual Violence Awareness (MYSVA for short). My friends Jineth and Ash and I make-up MYSVA. We are a teen activism group that aims to get fellow teenagers talking about and preventing gender- and sexual orientation-based violence.
For the past few months, we have been working on the administration and promotion of MYSVA (setting up social media accounts, partaking in the SPSM program, setting up a bank account, and more). Just this month, I finally secured approval from the Palm Bay (Florida) City Manager to host MYSVA Chalk Day on Sunday, December 6; a day we, our friends, and passersby will write testimonies and anti-street harassment messages in chalk along the sidewalk outside the local library, Degroodt.
A few weeks ago, on October 13, MYSVA presented about violence issues to an audience of 15 teenagers at the Degroodt Library Teen Advisory Group Meeting.
First, via power point slides, we covered different types of sexual violence (street harassment, teen dating violence, domestic violence, etc.) and how to recognized them. Then, we role-played street harassment scenarios, with me as the bystander, Ash as the street harassment sufferer, and Danny (a person from the audience) playing the harasser. The bystander just watched and made excuses for the harasser, like “maybe he is just being nice” or “maybe he knows her”, as the victim was followed and catcalled.
The audience laughed when Danny’s character exclaimed, “Are you a beaver, ‘cuz DAMN!” but we made sure to emphasize how uncomfortable this is for a stranger to hear this from a random being off the street. We brainstormed different ways a bystander can intervene.
Also, we collected surveys on the teen audience’s experiences of harassment (to be analyzed in the near future). All in all, our audience was really receptive and we got positive feedback from them.
Plus, on October 6, I interviewed Ms. Sue Kiley, a licensed counselor and the director of program’s at the Brevard Women’s Center in Melbourne, Florida. I learned lots of new informatiom on the motivations behind harassment, especially stalking, and support available for those who have experienced it. I hope to share my new-found knowledge when we launch our website (coming soon!)
Tena Gordon is a high school student in Florida and the founder of MYSVA.Share on Facebook