Posted by Rebecca Erenrich

teen girlsHi! My name is Rebecca and I am a senior at Brandeis University. As part of a course called "When Violence Hits Home: Internship in Domestic Violence," I am helping to pilot a new TeenSafe initiative with Journey to Safety, the domestic abuse program of JF&CS.

Meeting monthly between November and May, TeenSafe will work with a group of Jewish tenth grade girls, providing opportunities to develop leadership skills using a fun and dynamic group model. The group will learn and explore the meaning of healthy, unhealthy, and abusive behavior in dating relationships. Using their new skills and knowledge about sparking social change, they will plan and implement a community project designed to engage their peers and raise awareness about teen dating violence in their communities.

Along the way, we'll get to know each other, talk about how we can provide leadership in our communities on this issue, and think about what might work and not work in getting the word out. We'll also laugh, have fun and discover how powerful we can be when supporting each other and working together. Plus, I've been told there will be great snacks to help keep our energy up! (Dietary laws will be observed.)

I'm particularly excited to be part of this program because I have spent the past few summers interning with various teen dating abuse prevention programs in other communities. I have seen the passion these teens have developed for promoting healthy, respectful dating relationships, as well as the cohesion that grew among the groups, with participant friendships often lasting beyond the teens' high school years.

This initiative has the power to affect change in our community. Dating abuse happens at roughly the same rate in the Jewish community as it does in the population at large, BUT there is a myth in the Jewish community that it doesn't happen among our teens. The participants in this new initiative will help to change these beliefs about dating abuse and give their peers the tools and resources they need to make their communities safer and healthier!

For more information, please read our overview flyer OR contact Elizabeth Schön Vainer, Journey to Safety's Program Director, at If you are a tenth grade Jewish girl interested in applying, please fill out an application. We hope to have the first group meeting by mid- to late November.

Rebecca ErenrichRebecca Erenrich is a senior at Brandeis University, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Theater and Hebrew. When not in Boston, she resides in Cleveland with her family. She is interning with Journey to Safety's new TeenSafe initiative this year. She brings experience from other internships dealing with healthy relationships and teen dating violence.