In addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness Month (get your mammograms, friends), it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. With so much media attention on this particular topic lately, it’s only prudent to shine some light on ways you can become a positive force for good healthy relationships right here in Collin County.

North Dallas based Mary Kay Corporation (MKC) has been a wonderful partner with our very own nationally acclaimed Collin County Council on Family Violence (CCCFV) since its earliest days. They were generous and creative in their contributions including several videos for CCCFV to use through the years, developing and providing specially disguised resources specifically for women and girls impacted by Domestic Violence. Inspired by the CCCFV, during the last few years, MKC has conducted anonymous nationwide surveys of young men and women. The surveys focus on participant’s experiences with dating abuse including emotional, sexual, physical, and digital/social media abuse.

The 2014 survey of 500 young adults (ages 13-25) revealed that one in three respondents experienced some form of abuse from a dating partner. Of those, 75% reported being emotionally abused, 53% were physically abused, 22% suffered from sexual abuse, and 19% said that the new trend of digital (social media) abuse impacted them. Significantly, only slightly more than 53% stayed with their abusive partner for less than six months before seeking help, and 40% of participants said they stayed silent until the moment they saw a way out. It appears that the messages from organizations and movements like the CCCFV are reaching the intended audience. Abusers are getting left behind in shorter and shorter amounts of time.

Based on their survey results, Mary Kay Corporation has developed a program for girls in this same age group, 13-25, divided into Tweens, Teens, and young 20s, and one for their parents. The loveisrespect enterprise is a text-based opportunity to seek quick help; it is the nation’s first texting program designed to help people learn whether their relationship is healthy, and what to do if you, or someone you know, is experiencing abuse and needs help. Just text loveis to 22522 for more information.

This is not an “out” for parents of sons, however. Your intention should continue to be modeling healthy relationship behaviors for your sons and their friends, demonstrating that all forms of abuse “have no home in Collin County!” Similar to the “White Ribbon Campaign,” there is now the #MANUP social media initiative for boys and young men, ages 13-25. Across most platforms, search that hashtag and see testimonies and get advice from guys who are learning how to treat women with love and respect.

We all have an opportunity this month to get some face-to-face training provided by the Collin County on Family Violence (CCCFV), an initiative, since 1999, of the equally award-winning Junior League of Collin County (JLCC). The Council includes community partners representing local and state government, law enforcement, all levels of the education system, multiple faith communities, social services, healthcare, the courts and legal system, and workplace establishments. JLCC members and Council members have united to pool resources, build formidable intellectual capital, and unabashedly push forward to continually improve life in Collin County. The annual Facing Family Violence Conference will be held on October 22-23, 2015, at the Collin College Spring Creek Campus’ Living Legend Conference Center. This year, a special pre-conference event on October 21 includes the Reverend Al Miles, an expert on domestic and dating violence and child abuse awareness. His Thursday topic is “Divine Privilege: Understanding the Intersection of Spiritual Abuse and Domestic Violence.” Friday’s and Saturday’s agendas are packed with excellent speakers, intriguing topics, and opportunities for small group discussions on hot topics. Without a doubt, this conference leaves attendees always wanting more. When you consider the reasonable cost for a two-day professional conference, information and tools to perform your jobs more effectively, plenty of networking opportunities, Continuing Education Credits, and delicious food, how can you say no?! Just log on the CCCFV website below for all the details.

Please. Don’t Look Away. You have a voice. Use it. You have eyes. Use them. Offer a frightened friend a helping hand with respect and love. It’s likely she hasn’t experienced any of those honors in a long time.

To register for the Facing Family Violence Conference: ccc-fv.org/2015-cccfv-conference.

For more about the Don’t Look Away campaign, and several others: marykay.com/dontlookaway.

Chat with a peer advocate on the website loveisrespect.org.