“Between three and four women will die every day because of domestic violence in the U.S., leaving approximately 11 children without parents,” Donna Bartos, founder of Bloom365 said.
Bloom365 is a not-for-profit organization that started in 2006 with the mission to prevent teen dating abuse before it starts.
Bartos first experienced assault at age five, and since then has noticed a lack of domestic violence prevention in classrooms.
“Most trusted adults don’t know what to say when it comes to dating violence. It’s our job to train teachers and adults on how to show up for young people when it comes to these issues,” Bartos said.
One way Bloom365 reaches community members is by hosting a teen dating violence prevention experience for people 13 years or older.
On Saturday, November 2, this event took place from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Peoria Community Center located at 8335 W. Jefferson St. This exact training experience is scheduled to take place on the first Saturday of every month at the same time and place until June of 2020.
Bloom365 takes a collaborative and comprehensive public health approach to prevent teen dating violence through their 7-Dose curriculum. The topics discussed include: Recognizing the red flags, responding and referring, root causes, self-esteem, 3 C’s, and social change.
Jess Carrera-Campos helped facilitate the session and discussed several ways peers can help those who have been abused by their partner or who is the abuser. She also taught several tips and tricks for a variety of topics about domestic violence.
“We don’t want to make the victim feel like it’s something they’ve done, we want to validate what they say and just listen and ask if they’re safe,” Carrera-Campos said.
Throughout the training, Bloom365 offers those in need resources and connections to discuss or report domestic violence and abuse.
Additionally, Bloom365 offers drop-in individual advocacy and peer support groups from, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays in the community center.
They also have a curriculum designed to educate students in kindergarten, third grade, and middle school, and several opportunities for community members who want to be involved with their organization.
Community members can bring Bloom365 curriculum to their school or community, by joining the Bloom365 Peer Advocate Crew by applying online through the Bloom365 website or in person at a training session.
Shefali Prakash is 16-years-old and is a junior at BASIS Phoenix Charter school. Prakash attended the session because “I want to start a club at my school to bring more awareness to this topic because interpersonal violence deserves much more attention” she said.
Additionally, Prakash believes there should be more opportunities to help the abuser.
“Mental illness is the stigma abusers get blamed for, it’s just an easy way out to cover up the real issue which is some sort of manifestation of violence. The goal shouldn’t be to punish abusers because that won’t solve the problem,” Prakash said.
The concern Prakash expressed is something that Bartos is actively working to combat. “School’s primary response to these issues is expulsion, but who is going to reach out for help if they know they are going to get in trouble?” Bartos said.
This is why she is in the progress of designing a new program to begin in 2020 which helps schools educate domestic violence abusers instead of punishing them.
“School social workers are going to be trained on how to screen for domestic violence warning signs and how to provide education to parents and caregivers,” she said.
Bartos also conducted training in Globe with medical personnel to advance what is being done in hospitals about domestic violence.
Her biggest takeaway was the need to advocate for creating a code for domestic violence to prevent misdiagnosing those who are abused or are the abuser.
Through activism, education, and advocating, Bartos and her organization, Bloom365, strives to ensure that relationships, homes, schools, and communities are healthy, safe, and free of domestic abuse and violence.