ELIZABETH, NJ – Members of the Elizabeth Boys & Girls Club met Feb.2 to create tee-shirt s depicting what they learned in last week’s session about sexual violence.

The session was presented by the Union County Rape Crisis Center under the auspices of Union County Department of Human Services, Division of Planning. It was organized by Kievning and Candace Barnes, director of education and teen services for the Elizabeth Club.

 “The goal is to bring awareness about gender inequality in the media, sexual violence, and to promote healthy relationship,” said Stacy Kievning, UCRCC’s prevention coordinator.  

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The message was heard by the teenagers who attended the session. “I learned that you shouldn’t be in an abusive relationship,” said Thomas A. Edison Career & Technical Academy senior Najiyyah Dunn. “There is always someone to help. You are not the first person go through this. I learned about being comfortable with what you are and don’t do something you are not comfortable with. You should not be doing the abusing either.

“From law enforcement, I learned that you can be in trouble for associating, not only the crime doer, but you for witnessing. “

Dunn added, “The law doesn’t all have to be enforced by law enforcement. You can enforce the law as well. It starts with you.”

Elizabeth High School Frank J. Cicarell Academy senior Ramon Cales had a different take-away. “I learned a great deal such as that makes can be victims in relationships. Males can be sexually abused. Males can be damaged in unhealthy relationships. The results can be traumatizing for the male. It is something that people don’t think about.”

Perhaps the most important lesson was another learned by Dunn. “Speak up. You shouldn’t be afraid to speak up. I you know someone is going through something, you should speak up. Something you think is small can turn into something big.”

Union County Rape Crisis Center is located at 300 North Avenue East in Westfield, 908-233-7273.

The Boys & Girls Club of Union County is located at 513 Richmond Street in Elizabeth. The telephone number is 908-351-3344.