NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A new mural on Charlotte Avenue and 49th Avenue wants all your attention to help spread the message that you too can #BeTheFriend that ends dating violence.
It’s the proudest moment of her young life and not because the Maddy Rode is on the mural pressed against the walls of the Global Education Center. It’s because she knows firsthand how much of a difference having a friend makes when trying to leave abusive relationships.
“Personally it means a lot to me because I’ve experienced bad relationships before and it’s not fun. It hurts to not have support from your friends,” Rode said.
Rode found her friends and hopes this can be the inspiration to help others do the same. She designed the final mural with her father, which features an interactive QR code to get more information on why this message is so important.
According to the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one in 11 female and one in 14 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence. Nearly one in eight female and one in 26 male high school students reported having experienced sexual dating violence.
Kathy Walsh, the executive director of the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, said while the issue is widespread, teens are often the most susceptible. Some have theorized that teens are less likely to report what they initially assume to be teasing, which later escalates into insults or worse.
“So many times people just look the other way. We can’t look the other way any longer,” Walsh said.
It’s why Walsh is taking this message to where teens maybe by posting videos on TikTok and Snapchat. Walsh says so far they’ve had tremendous success with more than 1.8 million views, 15 million impressions, and 2.4 million engagements.
“It’s so exciting to see how our #BeTheFriend campaign is hitting the mark for reaching young people all across the state with our message of hope and empowerment," she said.
Any of us can #BeTheFriend and it starts with knowing what to look for. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, these are the warning signs to spot an abusive partner.
- show extreme jealousy of your friends or time spent away from them
- prevent or discourage you from spending time with friends, family members, or peers
- insult, demean or shame you in front of others
- prevent you from making your own decisions including about working or attending school
- control finances in the household without discussion
- pressure you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with
- pressure you to use drugs or alcohol
- intimidate you with weapons
- destroy your belongings
It may feel like the same song and dance, but Rode says this is one cycle that can be stopped.
“All it takes is just that one good friend to say, ‘hey, you don’t need him,’” Rode said.