What Is Love will provide Santa Barbara area youth more resources to help identify abusive love and build healthy relationship skills this fall.

What Is Love is using a grant from the Verizon Foundation to expand the reach of its dating violence prevention and awareness program. One in three teens in Santa Barbara County experience dating abuse and most never ask for help.

This type of violence can have a profound impact on the physical and emotional growth of a youth with short- and long-term consequences. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points out that youth who are harmed by teen dating violence are more likely to do poorly in school, to report binge drinking, attempt suicide, engage in physical fighting and have a greater likelihood of teen pregnancy. Together, they create lasting harm that affects the victim of abuse, their friends, families, schools and surrounding communities.

What Is Love addresses this crisis through its restorative, innovative outreach employing technology, the power of storytelling and a teen-driven media awareness campaign. Its program currently includes a school assembly format, workshops for youth and parents, with a teen driven outreach campaign. WIL plans to expand its programming to include a documentary, teacher and parent tools, and a dating quiz APP.

Christy Haynes, MA Psy., founder and director of prevention for WIL said, “Thanks to the generous support of Verizon Foundation, WIL can continue to provide this essential programming for Santa Barbara County schools and help us grow our programming.”

Jesus Torres, director of government and external affairs for Verizon , said, “Verizon supports the work of nonprofits like What Is Love, as they strive to improve the communities where our employees work and live. Together, we can help our youth learn about healthy relationships and how to prevent violence.”

For more than a decade, Verizon, through its various business units and its philanthropic foundation, has been a champion of ending domestic violence. Verizon supports a broad range of programs that include training health care practitioners and first responders about screening for signs of abuse; engaging men as role models and advocates for prevention; educating teens about preventing dating violence; and providing resources for domestic prevention organizations and survivors.

Christy said, “This grant will provide an opportunity to capture more teen stories for the Assembly Format, develop APPS helping teens identify abusive love, train additional peer educators, expand our outreach capabilities with on-line resources, provide educational workshops to parents & teachers, and provide every school in Santa Barbara County awareness materials with resources for help.”

For more information on the program, click here or join us on Facebook by clicking here.