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Their Body Shouldn’t Be Currency 

As a survivor who has seen and experienced violence since the age of three, I fully understand the fear and shame that most of the teenagers we are walking along side feel and carry every day. For some of them when you grow up in a house that has violence and manipulation on a daily basis you get desensitized to it and think that it is normal, that every household is like this, and you learn to just never talk about what happens and you learn to sweep it under the rug. When this happens you do not know what a healthy relationship looks like, especially in your teen years. You are looking for love and acceptance anywhere you can get it even if it hurts you. I honestly think walking along side these brave young individuals is so important. It is where I have found my passion and a way to let them know they are not alone, and that someone else knows exactly how they are feeling. Nothing can change the past but together we can start to work on a better future. Showing them that even though it feels and looks like their “normal” it is the furthest from the truth. They need to be shown and reminded constantly that nothing is wrong with them, that they are loved, accepted and enough just the way they are, in a positive way. Helping them see that it does not have to be how they were brought up thinking was ok or even acceptable, and the cost is too high. They need to know that they are worth so much more and their voice is powerful and needs to be heard. When they say NO, it means NO and that it should never be a negotiation. The youth I work with have incredible potential. It takes a lot of time to gain their trust to a point where they will even start to see that you are not just another person who wants something in return or to use and abuse them. They know firsthand how much damage just one person can do to them emotionally, physically, and verbally. It is definitely not an easy or a quick process helping them change their mindset, but it is a valuable opportunity that they desperately deserve and is much needed in today's world. They need a loving, understanding, support system around them to help them know that they can have a future that does not involve them getting hurt or their bodies used as currency. They need to know that others get it, that they feel like they are not being judged, and it is not their fault for what has been done to them at the expense or pleasure of someone else. We need to come together and show a united front that together we can make a difference and change the trajectory many of our youth are on. Together we can work on giving them hope instead of shame, to walk with them and let them know that it won’t always be like this, it can be better.  

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