Local group uses Valentine's Day to fight violence against women

Girls Inc. of San Antonio hold meeting to raise awareness

Girls Inc. of San Antonio held a town hall style meeting Thursday to draw attention to domestic abuse and the growing problem of dating violence among teens.

"Rising To End Violence Against Women and Girls" was a part of V-Day, a day to rise up and speak out against violence against women and young girls.

"V-Day is about creating that world where girls and women are free from violence, being part of that social change, and giving girls the opportunity to rise up and be leaders for this," said Girls Inc. of San Antonio President/CEO Rhonda Williamson.

The meeting included a panel of law enforcement and women's health experts.

The group took questions from Girls Inc. members and discussed the warning signs of physical and emotional abuse.

"Domestic violence is something you shouldn't be quiet about, and that's what the message is," said Girls Inc. member Hailey Mendez. "We (Girls Inc.) want to help girls voice out what's really happening."

According to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, one-in-three teens in the U.S. will experience physical, sexual or emotional abuse by someone they are in a relationship before the age of 18.

Panelist and Family Violence Prevention Services representative Sonia Coutee said changing that statistic will take more than encouraging women and young girls to stand up and speak out for themselves.

"We also need to educate our young boys to learn to respect and to know how to treat girls," said Coutee.

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