On January 4, 2012 Wendy Claunch of DASH and Heather Sarmiento of the Fairfax County Office for Women and Domestic and Sexual Violence, spoke to 83 young women of the sophomore class at The Madeira School. The school’s Director of Counseling, Tracie Epes, invited Heather to speak to the girls about sexual assault. Heather asked Wendy to join her to speak about teen dating abuse. The Madeira School is a private, girls’ day and boarding school with 300 students in McLean, VA.
The presentation began with the girls viewing Shev’s Story, a new recording of Lynne and Andy Russell telling the story of their daughter Siobhan’s abusive relationship. Wendy then spoke to the girls about the early warning signs of teen dating abuse. “Even if you aren’t in an abusive relationship, it’s important to know the signs so you can help yourself or someone else,” Wendy said. She later reviewed the signs that an abuser may become a lethal threat.
Heather spoke about sexual assault and emphasized that most sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. “We always talk about strangers following you in the parking lot or waiting in the bushes to jump out at you, but in reality they cause less the 3% of known sexual assaults,” said Heather. The young women seemed very receptive to both messages and were happy to accept a DASH bracelet to help raise awareness. The Madeira School will be participating (as will DASH) in a joint presentation with McLean High School in February.