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Be Strong Club – Art & Writing Contest for Teen DV Month 2017

art contest 1Be Strong Club, a youth empowerment club based at Dublin High School, partnered with Tri-Valley Haven to host a school-wide Art & Writing Contest in honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month this February 2017.

Members of the club worked together to promote the event by distributing fliers at tabling events or during school hours, making daily announcements on the PA system, and personally announcing the contest to their peers in their classrooms. The contest encouraged students to create a poster, writing sample, or poem related to Teen Dating Violence!

A certificate and $25 gift card, which was kindly provided by Tri-Valley Haven, would be given to the top entry in each of the three categories. The categories the club selected are:

• Healthy and/or Unhealthy Teen Dating Relationship
• Bystander Intervention
• Dating Violence towards Men

Be Strong Club received a number of artistic student entries, and after careful consideration, the club chose a winner in each category. The winners were invited to attend a Be Strong Club meeting to be commemorated for their creative contribution, receive their prize, and participate in a short Q&A about their submissions.
The category winners, along with their responses on the Q&A portion, are as followed:
Healthy and/or Unhealthy Teen Dating Relationship

Winner: Michael Zapawa
Untitled Song Entry
Category: Healthy and/or Unhealthy Dating Relationship

Winner: Tanmayi Amanchi
Untitled Poster
Category: Bystander Intervention
Note: The participant was unable to attend club meeting and was given her prize, on a different date, by a Be Strong member.

Winner: Angelica Hom
Writing piece titled “Memories Flow”
Category: Dating Violence Towards Men

Contest winners were awarded their prizes during the Be Strong Club’s meeting at the end of the February. We are so grateful to everyone who participated! You can view our winning entries under the “Read More” tag!

art contest 2Memories Flow
by Angelica Hom

The bus moves quickly in the night towards an uncertain future. Eren holds her best friend’s hand, unsure of what they are doing, but it doesn’t matter. They’re doing something for once.
For the first time that night, she looks at him and wills herself to remember everything. Damien’s got a black eye, a broken lip, but a smile on his face. It makes the memories flow a little easier.

Three hours ago
“She has a gun. She has a gun,” Damien says out of breath from running down the stairs. It’s the first time she’s seen him panic in the twenty- five years they’ve known each other.
“Shit,” Eren hugs her luggage to her chest.
“Damien!” Eren can hear Damien’s girlfriend’s voice echo from somewhere up the stairs of the apartment building.
“She’s going to kill me,” Damien whispers, frozen in place.
Dropping one of the bags, Eren grabs his hand and they run outside. It’s too dark to see where they’re going, but she moves as fast as she can.
They make it into an alleyway, but their footsteps are too loud. It makes it too easy for his girlfriend, Ann, to keep up with them.
They need a diversion, something to throw her off their trail. So, as quietly as possible she shoves Damien behind a large trash bin in the corner where he will be out of sight. She runs out the other end of the alley and tosses the last bag past the side of the corner. It bounces off a car and creates the perfect familiar clinking of metal against metal.
Before Ann can come that way, she runs as fast as she can in the opposite direction.

She thinks she has spent too much time on the bus. It’s starting to feel too big, almost as if it stretches on forever. The silence stretches almost as far.
“Do you love me?” Eren asks.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t,” he says.
“But do you love me?”
“Not enough, but you don’t love me either.”
“I wish I loved you instead,” she says.
He gives her hand a squeeze, “I know.”

Six months ago
“He hit me. He said he loved me, but he hit me again,” Eren said, crying before she was even in the doorway. Her arm hurt, and she was sure that bruises were already starting to form up and down her body.
Damien was silent as he lead her into the tiny apartment room. He was limping, Ann must’ve hurt him again. She wants to help him but she can barely help herself.
“We need to run away,” she whimpered, “I don’t want to be in pain anymore.”

She realizes how strange they must look to the other passengers, with Damien reeking of garbage and possible cat piss, and herself in batman pajamas. She scoots in closer to him; There is safety in numbers.
“Do you wish you never met him?” he asks her.
She doesn’t hesitate, “Yes.”
“I want to wish I never met Ann,” he says holding Eren closer.

One year ago
Three hours of sweat and dedication had been poured into a game of monopoly and Damien was winning. However, that was not the biggest thing on her mind. Instead she’d turned her attention towards something else.
“How’d you get that one,” she said pointing to gash on Damien’s hand.
“Broke a plate,” he said as he pulled his hand backwards defensively.
“What about the bruise on your leg?”
“Tripped on a chair,” the smile is still plastered on his face, but she can tell he’s beginning to get agitated. She pushes anyways.
“What about that broken arm last month.”
“Furniture just loves me what can I say.”
“Honestly, you should just mind your own damn business. Pay up, you landed on my property.”
Shit. She was out of money.

The sun is already beginning to rise and Eren knows that they will be arriving in Los Angeles soon. Los Angeles, it was weird to think about coming back to her home. She had run away with her then boyfriend Robert all those years ago.
And now she was going back home to run away from Robert.
She leans her head against Damien and they watch as the sun peeks out from behind the buildings and mountains to usher in a new beginning.

Two Years Ago
Eren was walking down the street holding Robert’s hand; it was the first real date they’d been on in months. It felt almost unreal.
They’d only been out of the apartment for a couple of minutes when they saw a boy, almost double Eren’s height, shoved up against the wall. Rough blows were dealt to his chest and stomach by a girl, probably a girlfriend. She was yelling something in another language.
His eyes were rolled upwards towards the sky, as if he was trying to ignore what was happening. The girl didn’t care, but Eren did. She’d recognize those eyes anywhere, it was Damien. They hadn’t seen each since they were in high school.
She slid herself closer to her boyfriend until they walked past Damien and their back was to him.
Robert burst out laughing when they’d gotten out of hearing range, “Did you see that, love? His girlfriend beat the stuffing out of him. Probably did something to deserve it though. He didn’t even try to fight back.”
“Yeah… Didn’t even fight back,” Eren nervously chuckled. Robert slipped his hand from her hand to wrap around shoulder and pull her in closer. She tried not to flinch when he pushed a little too hard against the bruise he gave her yesterday.
He’d called her ‘love,’ he loved her.

When they reach the final stop they will be strangers. They have to be, it’s the only way to start over. For the time being, she holds Damien a little closer.

Eight Years Ago
Eren was seventeen when she left home. She remembers the sun shining down on her, and the feeling of hope that seemed to bring her to new heights. There was an adventure ahead of her.
“You’re leaving,” Damien said, sneaking up behind her on the bus stop. She had two bags in hand, and a boyfriend who loved her waiting on the bus. Somehow her best friend didn’t fit into all of this.
“Yeah, I’m going to go live in San Francisco. It’s the dream right?” she said winking at him.
“Alright, send me postcards or some shit?” he tried for happy, but came out sort of flat. He never was very good at lying.
“Always, and I’m just a phone call away if you need anything.” she said trying to ease the cut, “I’ll be home eventually.”
She never got that phone call.

The bus edges to a stop and she can feel her heart beating. They were home.
Damien and Eren are silent as they walk out of the bus.
It is only now does she notice the hope in his bright brown eyes that shine so brightly against his dark skin. Despite the split lip and the swollen eye, with the sun behind him he looks radiant.
He smiles and she lets the memories flow away.


Can you summarize the chapter for Be Strong Club in your own words?
This girl (Eren) she moved to San Francisco and she spent years there with her boyfriend and she is convinced that she loves him. He does beat her and a part of him does love her but he is still an abuser in the relationship. She doesn’t recognize or realize or care honestly that this is happening until she meets one of her old friends Damien and upon seeing him going through something similar she realizes just how toxic both of their relationships are. And she has to make a choice between staying or escaping. They both escape at the end of the story.

How old were the characters?
I didn’t set ages for them. If I had to, I’d calculate and age I’d say that Eren left home with her boyfriend when she was 17 or 18 almost, and they had been living together in SF for 5 years. They are in there early 20’s.

What types of abuse are depicted in the story?
In Eren’s relationship it was a physical abuse, less emotional abuse because what he said and what he did were completely different things. He said things that convinced her they were in love but he did things that should not be done to someone you care about.
With Damion, what happened to him was very physical and very emotional but he was too scared, and he didn’t want to be alone. He didn’t love his girlfriend but he didn’t want to be alone.

* * *

art contest 3Untitled Song Entry
by Michael Zapawa

Cold blooded…cold fist…heart fidgets… stained with a bloody kiss.
Quick living…unhinged… harsh living… this is where it all begins
Hit you like a blizzard, you standing in, cut you with the scissors so don’t be paper thin,
Love is just a river, don’t let it drown you, don’t let it stand; find your way to…
Hit you like a blizzard, you standing in, cut you with the scissors so don’t be paper thin, love is just a river, don’t let it drown you, don’t let it stand, find your way to land.
Great kingdoms have two thrones, door is only a step away, be safe know when you’re not okay
Hit you like a blizzard, you standing in, cut you with the scissors so don’t be paper thin, love is just a river, don’t let it drown you, don’t let it stand, find your way to…
Hit you like a blizzard, you standing in, cut you with the scissors so don’t be paper thin, love is just a river, don’t let it drown you, don’t let it stand, find your way to land.


What message where you trying to get across with the song?
There are a lot of things that are pretty obvious when you are in an unhealthy relationship, like a lot of the metaphors that I put in the song, like when you are standing in a blizzard, you don’t like want to stay in the blizzard, when you’re drowning you don’t want to continue drowning, to exercise a sense of self preservation and know what real love is, and get out when you need to.

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1 Comment

  1. I wish there was a BeStrong Club in every High School. Props to Dublin High School, their amazing Health Teachers & the STUDENTS for connecting with Tri-Valley Haven! It is amazing the awareness about Healthy Relationships and dating safety brought to the entire school! It all began with the BeStrong Club Students!
    Great job TVH Preventionists!


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