Safety: Teen Dating Violence

By the time a student finishes high school one third will experience some type of abuse in their relationships.  Who does this happen to?  Dating Violence can happen anywhere and to anyone.  The only thing that victims of abusive relationships have in common is that they have nothing in common. Dating violence happens regardless of socio-economic status, geographic area, age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or physical size.   Even men can be victims of dating violence. 

During the past 5 years, through a partnership with Deana’s Educational Theater, Heather’s Hope Foundation, local school districts, local actresses and Peace River Center, Heartland for Children has brought the Yellow Dress play to 33 schools or groups. Over 3,500 participants have viewed the play. 

By participating in the Yellow Dress Play, a teen dating violence prevention program created by Deana’s Educational Theater, teens in high schools in Hardee, Highlands and Polk Counties, learn to recognize early warning signs, how to help a friend that is a victim or the perpetrator of the abuse, and where to get help if they need it.  Teens also learn about what a healthy relationship looks like.

This year, Lissette Campos and ABC Action News partnered with Deana’s Educational Theater, Heartland for Children and Heather’s Hope Foundation to bring the Yellow Dress to the Tampa Bay area.  On October 1st, The Yellow Dress was performed for an audience of approximately 1,000 participants at the Straz Center for Performing Arts.  ABC Action News aired their annual 1 hour Domestic Violence Special, Taking Action Against Domestic Violence, which featured the Yellow Dress, on October 16, 2013. The show will remain available for viewing via their website.

Through survey results from the previous school performances participants have reported an increase in awareness in several areas. 

As a result of viewing the Yellow Dress Play,

  • 89% of participants can recognize the early warning signs of an abusive relationship. 
  • 86% of participants are more aware of how to help a victim of abuse
  • 86% are aware of where to find help in their communities. 

What are some of the early signs of an abusive relationship? When your partner puts you down, calls you names, insults you, tries to control who you can hang out with, what you eat, and where you go.  For more information on dating violence visit

Where should you go to get help for yourself or others? 

Talk to parents, trusted adults, and school guidance counselors or call the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at (866) 331-9474.

The Yellow Dress

For more information on programs from Deana’s Educational Theater, visit

If you are interested in how you may schedule a performance of the Yellow Dress at your school, please contact Kathie Graydon at (863) 519-8900 ext. 214.