Teen Spotlight: Hunter Popp - Raising Awareness about Abusive Relationships

March 04, 2024

As we come to the end of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, it’s important to remember that raising awareness about abuse is an essential part of breaking the social norms that allow dating violence to happen. This is something people of all ages can do, including teens. 

High school student Hunter Popp knows the importance of speaking up. When he was in the locker room and heard his football teammates talking about October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, he took the opportunity to let them know that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  

“Mom always talks about [Domestic Violence Awareness Month] is in October, too, and I play high school football and everyone mentions ‘wear pink,’” Hunter said. “And she told me that purple is the color for [domestic violence] and October is also the month and I had never heard that, and I just thought it was odd that Kentucky leads the [nation] and ain’t nobody talking about it.” 

Hunter said his teammates had a variety of reactions when he told them Kentucky has one of the highest rates of intimate partner violence (IPV).  

“Some of them are just like you know, ‘I didn’t know that,’ and some of them were really like, you know, some of them had stories like ‘You know, my mother was abused’ or ‘I had somebody that was abused,’” Hunter said. 

Hunter says he thinks it’s important to talk about IPV because people need to be reminded that it’s not okay. He says IPV will never be eliminated if people don’t speak up about it, and he doesn’t want Kentucky to be known for high rates of abuse. 

Hunter said, “We want to lead the state in national basketball championships and football wins, I mean, not, not domestic violence!” 

As we move through the rest of the year, let’s remember to follow Hunter’s example and use every opportunity we can to raise awareness about dating violence and intimate partner violence. Talking about it can help break the stigma, lead those experiencing violence to helpful resources, and make it clear that violence is not okay. 

As important as it is to raise awareness about domestic violence, it is just as important to raise awareness about what distinguishes a healthy relationship from an unhealthy or abusive relationship. February’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (TDVAM) theme, "Love Like That," has helped do just that. The phrase helps bring attention to what “that” might mean for a young person, and we hope that it will help them define their version of a positive, healthy relationship.     

By helping teens spell out what “that love” means to them, they can uplift and empower their most authentic selves. It’s easy to assume that we all have the same definition of love or that the people we care about know what we mean when we say, “I love you.” The fact is, everyone has different ideas about romantic love and how it should be expressed. This is exactly why healthy relationship education for young people is so important.

Relationships exist on a spectrum, and it can sometimes be hard to tell when a behavior goes from healthy to unhealthy, or even abusive. The organization, love is respect, is there to listen without judgment and help identify possible signs of abuse in your relationship. Visit loveisrespect.org to learn more about healthy dating relationships. You can also text “LOVEIS” to 22522 to speak to an advocate.

Always remember, you deserve a "love like that!"