The Center for Nonprofit Leadership teaches teens the signs of an abusive relationship.

How do you prevent adolescents from becoming the future victims of gender-based violence? You create a video on how to recognize the signs of teen dating violence and bring it to where teens are—online.

Ann Marie Thigpen, director of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership at Adelphi, said the project came about thanks to a grant from the Allstate Foundation. Having worked for years with organizations that help victims of domestic violence, “I thought, why not bring them together in a collaborative project?” she said.

After several lengthy discussions, the center, 15 nonprofit organizations and representatives from the Nassau and Suffolk County police departments identified a target audience (teens) and message (prevention) and method of communication (online video). The center then held focus groups with Long Island teens to develop the script. With this script, the Ghetto Film School’s Digital Bodega created The Signs, a video that, via selfies and social media, portrays a romance that starts out hearts-and-flowers but turns abusive.
The couple depicted in the video cannot be pigeonholed into any particular cultural or ethnic group. Thigpen said this was intentional. “Gender-based violence is not limited to women from any ethnic, cultural or socioeconomic demographic,” she said. “It spans the spectrum and can become a psychological prison,” in which even high-income women with resources may lack the wherewithal to escape.

The video was posted on websites and YouTube and has received hits from all over the country. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive,”  Thigpen said. “Collaborations and partnerships are critical when you have limited resources. When organizations work together, they become more impactful.”

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