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“I am a survivor, but I am not a victim”: PADV Teens Reflect on Love and Abuse

by share

At the Partnership Against Domestic Violence’s Teen Summit, teens crafted vision boards inspired by dialogue about self love, performed pieces of songs and poetry, and practiced communication around boundaries. VOX wanted to know from PADV teens: What is love? What is abuse? And what would you say to your younger self, if you could?







  • Being kind
  • Happiness
  • Never ending happiness
  • Caring
  • Unconditional support and care given and reciprocated between two or more people
  • Self respect
  • Respect
  • Eternity
  • Friendship, fun, communication, trust, commitment, passion, and safety
  • Reciprocity
  • Amor – having NO barriers
  • Beauty
  • Loving yourself and others
  • Abundance
  • “Love is what love does”



  • Control, hurt feelings, fear, anger, false hope, and tension
  • Tyranny
  • A seizure of power and the unjust use of power on others
  • Hell
  • Suicide, homicide
  • Unloved
  • Hatred
  • Bad
  • Depression
  • Bad talk
  • Not loving yourself

















Dear self,

Love yourself deeply and never allow anyone to love you any less. You are a child of God.


Jasmine M.:

Dear 11-year-old me,

I hope you know that you should think you’re great. You’re going to go on a journey. It’s not one of the pleasant ones where you have fun and you enjoy everything. This one is difficult, tiring, stressful, and full of trials. It starts here. When you’re 11. But even now, at 16, you’ll find a way to survive. I would write more but you know what I’m talking about.

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Love you.
Jasmine M.



Dear past self,

I know you went through abuse.

I know you went through a violent relationship.

Don’t be scared to stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to know and show your true colors.

Just remember that your future is brighter.

Future self


Maya Martin, 17, Agnes Scott College

Dear 12-year-old self,

Don’t shut down. Don’t shut up. Don’t hide. Don’t put your head down. Don’t take responsibility. I know it hurts like hell to be yourself, but you are super smart and kind and lovable when you aren’t hiding.

I will learn to love you.



Dear 13-year-old me,

Don’t let your view of yourself affect how you choose your relationships. Hating yourself is not the answer, especially at this time of your life. Also, don’t let the relationships you’ve been surrounded by your whole life determine how you get treated. DON’T GET TATTOOS YET. You can wait 5 more years. It’s not that big of a deal.

Art by Stefany Hernandez, Janae Cooper, Habib Diallo, Hanna Corbin, Aamna Hudda, Jackson, Tanika W., Zakirah White, Carrington Cobb, and Summer Green

Are you a teen with an original story, poem, or creation to share? Send it to with your first and last name, age, and school!

Enjoy poetry?

Join VOX (for free!) at our Atlanta Word Works Youth Poetry Slam, Sat. March 17, 1-3:30 p.m. Register





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