Askable Adult Workshop

Join us for an Askable Adult Workshop on February 23rd!

Mental Health Partners, Norton Room West
Monday, February 23. 5-7:30 pm
1333 Iris Avenue Boulder, CO

This free community training for adults will begin with dinner and skill building and wrap up with a panel of teens answering your questions about how to be an askable adult on the topic of dating and healthy relationships.



What Is Abuse?

We began our discussion this month with a dissection of Power. If ya’ll recall, we wrapped up that post with the following explanation of what Power has to do with unhealthy relationships.

“The benefits and disadvantages faced by certain groups can show up in relationships and help to reinforce the power differences between people. When we are aware of these systemic forces, we can best understand how to help others and ourselves to make sure abuse and violence are not perpetuated in our community or intimate relationships. We can also understand the complex situations people are in when they try to access services from organizations/institutions that believe in and reinforce those -isms we just spoke about.”

Today we will focus on a discussion of dating abuse. At PBJ, we define dating abuse as follows.

Dating abuse occurs when harmful behaviors are used to manipulate, gain control, gain power over, or make someone feel bad about them-self or other people close to them.

Here is a list of some harmful behaviors often found within unhealthy relationships. We have placed them within two categories: Physical Harm & Emotional Harm.

This is not a complete list of harmful behaviors. If you have any questions about possible harmful behaviors that you or a friend are experiencing, please call either the SPAN (303)444-2424 or MESA (303) 443-7300. Both lines are free, confidential, and anonymous.

[tabs tab1=”Physical” tab2=”Emotional”]

– hitting
– scratching
– pushing
– threatening
– pinching
– shoving
– forcing
– throwing things
– biting
– sexual assault
– sexual harassment
– damaging personal property


– name calling
– criticizing
– telling lies
– spreading rumors
– threatening to hurt oneself
– humiliating
– behaving jealously
– isolating partner from friends and/or family
– cheating on a dating partner
– making a dating partner feel guilty
– ignoring a dating partner’s feelings
– scaring a dating partner



Use this list of harmful behaviors to help you figure out if behaviors are abusive or not. Emotional, sexual, and physical dating abuse are all serious.

When emotionally harmful behaviors happen once, they may not be abusive. Emotional harmful behaviors become a problem when the behaviors continue and they’re used to manipulate, control, gain power over someone, or makes a person feel badly.

However, any use of physical or sexual violence is abusive, even if it’s only done once.

An abusive relationship is usually characterized by a pattern of behavior that includes more than just physical violence. It is a pattern of threatening and intimidating behavior used to gain control over a partner. It can include all of the harmful behaviors we just mentioned.

During our next blog post, we will discuss further as we introduce the Cycle of Violence.


What Does A Healthy Relationship Look Like?

Although we have different types of loving relationships, we often look for the same qualities in the people we want close to us. We all want people to respect our opinions, to encourage our dreams, and to support us in hard times. So even though our relationships with our parents, our best friend, and our dating partner(s) are different, there is a similarity in that caring people treat us in ways that help us feel good about ourselves.

Think of a time when you felt respected by someone you were close to. What did that person do to make you feel respected and/or loved? How did you treat them in return? What are important ways you want to be treated in a relationship?

During our in-class presentations, we work with students to write a list of the ways they want to be treated within a relationship. Oftentimes students will respond with: “I want to be loved,” “I want to be romanced,” “I want to be cared for,” “I want to be respected,” “I want to be heard,” “I want to be supported,” etc. An important component of healthy relationships is knowing what you want out of relationship. Knowing how you want to be treated by a dating partner is a great way to know how you don’t want to be treated by a dating partner.

Below is a diagram known as the teen equality wheel borrowed from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence that provides some basic themes needed in order to sustain a healthy and equitable relationship. Themes such as…

Negotiation & Fairness


Non-threatening Behavior

Trust & Support

Honesty & Accountability

Self Confidence & Personal Growth

Shared Power


…are extremely helpful tools to utilize in forming healthy relationships.


If you were to make a list of the two most important ways you want to be treated, which things would you include? These two things are your bottom line. These are the things that you must have in a relationship. When you’re dating someone, go over this list every once in a while to see if you’re getting the things that are most important to you in the relationship. We all have choices in how we want to be treated. If you aren’t getting the things that are most important to you, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship.

We can all choose how we want to be treated by our dating partners and choose the way that we want to treat them in return. Author, feminist, teacher and scholar bell hooks wrote, “But love is really more of an interactive process. It’s about what we do, not just what we feel. It’s a verb, not a noun.”

What are your bottom line needs within a relationship?

What is power?

As we begin discussing the dynamics of Teen Dating Violence, it’s important to understand the concept of Power & Control as it is a force found within many unhealthy relationships.

Let’s start with a discussion of power. When I say the word power, what images come to mind? Lightbulbs? Muscles? Tanks? Money?

All of the images that come to mind can be placed within one of three categories:

a) Individual/Power Within
b) Collective/Power With
c) Institutional/Power Over


[divider] [/divider]



[one_half_last]Individual Power/Power Within is the power that an individual feels. Feelings of individual strength, autonomy, and expression.[/one_half_last]


[one_half]BlackLivesMatter[/one_half][one_half_last]Collective Power/Power With is the power that individuals feel when they come together. This can be thought of as synergy. The word synergy comes from the Ancient Greek term synergia, meaning “working together. Artivist M.K. Asante, Jr. defines synergy as, “…the interaction or cooperation of two or more agents to produce a combined effect effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” We see examples of collective power in marches, protests, co-ops, etc.[/one_half_last]



[one_half_last]Institutional Power/Power Over is the power that comes from institutions. It can be seen in some governments, monopolies, laws, and in the systems that enforce them.[/one_half_last]


[divider] [/divider]


The School of Unity and Liberation in California defines power as, “the ability to control circumstances.” Oftentimes, political scientists define power as the ability to influence the behavior of others, with or without resistance. Within social justice work, power can be defined as access to resources and/or privileges. Depending on your social position, it is more than likely to have different amounts of power in various parts of your life.

Now that we have a collective definition/vision of what power is and how it shows up, let’s talk about who is in power.

What groups have had access to power within our society?
What groups have had less power?
What systems have allowed for this power imbalance to occur?

Below is a power and oppression chart. Within it are three tabs. The tab on the left shows groups of privilege a.k.a. groups that have historically held power, the middle tab shows the system of oppression or the “-ism” that allows a power imbalance to happen, and the tab on the right shows the groups that have been oppressed or marginalized by the system of oppression for the empowerment of the privileged group.


[divider] [/divider]

Power & Oppression Chart

[tabs tab1=”Privilege” tab2=”System” tab3=”Oppression”]

Groups with Access to Societal Power

  • Men
  • White People
  • Upper/Middle class and rich people
  • Adults
  • Heterosexuals
  • Able-bodied/able-minded people
  • U.S. Born & U.S. Citizens




  • Sexism
  • Racism
  • Capitalism/Classism
  • Adultism/Ageism
  • Heterosexism
  • Ableism
  • Xenophobia



Groups with Less Access to Societal Power

  • Women/Transgender & Gender nonconforming and intersex people
  • People of Color
  • Poor and working class people
  • Youth & Elderly people
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Two-spirit, Queer & Questioning people
  • People with Disabilities
  • Immigrants and People outside the U.S.



[divider] [/divider]

Before we move forward, let’s recap a few points. As we live our lives, we are constantly engaging under an amalgam of systems that benefit certain groups of people at the expense of others. This difference in power has led to a lot of violence, distrust, and heartache between and within groups. We’ve also defined power as the ability to control circumstances and as the ability to influence the behavior of others, with or without resistance.

So, what does power have to do with relationships?

The benefits and disadvantages faced by certain groups can show up in relationships and help to reinforce the power differences between people. When we are aware of these systemic forces, we can best understand how to help others and ourselves to make sure abuse and violence are not perpetuated in our community or intimate relationships. We can also understand the complex situations people are in when they try to access services from organizations/institutions that believe in and reinforce those -isms we just spoke about.

Later on this month, we will dissect and discuss Control and the ways that Power & Control develop the foundation of an unhealthy relationship.

Back to School Newsletter

Peers Building Justice
Back to School 2014 Newsletter

Join PBJ as a Campus Organizer!
Now Accepting Applications

Campus Organizers are high school students who are interested in challenging the cultural norms that promote and encourage dating violence and sexual violence. They work to raise awareness about interpersonal violence and oppression in their schools and their communities through a variety of advocacy events and arts-based initiatives.

PBJ Campus Organizers complete a Training Institute that provides and empowers them with knowledge about interpersonal violence and with skills to plan events, use social media to effectively advocate for social change, and develop art as part of an awareness campaign. Campus Organizers meet twice a month and commit to participating in PBJ for a full school year.

Meetings will be:

-On the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month from 5-7PM
-At OUT Boulder’s Pridehouse (2132 14th Street, Boulder, CO 80302)
-Free dinner will be provided & transportation can be arranged!

Apply now!

Last year’s Campus Organizers had an amazing year together. After bonding at the free overnight retreat at YMCA of the Rockies in early November, they developed their “I Love Myself Because…” photo campaign, put on a radical self love Valentine’s Day event with BMoCA’s Studio Project, made lots of original art, and led their own showcase event in April (pretty awesome)! And we think this year will be even BETTER!

PBJ welcomes ALL high school-aged youth to apply. Please for more information. 

Boulder Youth Violence Prevention Committee

PBJ has a new branch for busy teens and adults
The Boulder Youth Violence Prevention Committee meets monthly to identify ways to promote interpersonal violence prevention among youth and support existing initiatives.  Moving beyond the individual knowledge and skill-building covered by PBJ’s curriculum, the PBJ BYVPC works on a community and societal level to promote change on a larger scale. The committee’s primary purpose is to identify areas in which to develop or support existing policy initiatives related to comprehensive sex education that promote interpersonal violence prevention among youth. Since Peers Building Justice is a youth-led organization that simultaneously appreciates a rich diversity of perspectives, BYVPC invites youth members as young as 12 alongside adults from BVSD and the community.

The first meeting will be on a Monday September 22nd at 6:00 at the OUT Boulder Pridehouse on 14th and Spruce.

Email for more information.

Schedule PBJ Curriculum Presentations

Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) and Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) have come together to enhance our long-standing Peers Building Justice (PBJ) program.
We invite you to meet with us to discuss this exciting opportunity for your students to be involved in our violence prevention work by allowing us to provide 6-8 educational sessions in your classroom. Our curriculum was developed using two evidence-based curricula, 
Safe Dates and Expect Respect, the Colorado Department of Education’s academic standards for high school students, and arts-based interventions used for violence prevention.
See the outline here.

Last year Peers Building Justice educators visited 6 BVSD high schools and served over 1,500 youth! This year, we’d like to continue developing supportive relationships with even more middle and high school teachers and community partners.
Please if you’d like us to provide your curriculum to your or your youth’s class this year.

“Great presentations and valuable information! I loved the whole thing.” – BVSD Health Teacher

“I wish that everyone could see this!” – BVSD Health and P.E. Teacher

Did you know?

Why we do what we do…

44% of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18

There is a sexual assault every 2 minutes in the U.S.

1/3 teens will experience dating violence

Stay connected with PBJ

Stay updated on PBJ events and opportunities as well as information, news, and inspiration by following us on social media!


“I Love Myself Because…” A Peers Building Justice Showcase


 Join the Peers Building Justice Campus Organizers on Friday April 18th, as we celebrate their awesome accomplishments this year!
6:00-7:30 PM
Alfalfa’s Market Community Room … (Once you get to Alfalfa’s find their guest services desk and ask for directions to the community room)
•Interactive art installation
•Slam poetry
•Photography exhibit
•Multimedia art
•Youth-created “zines” (self-published magazines)
•Photo booth
•Free food
•FUN! =)



A Call for Submissions from Youth Artists and Activists


Artists age 12-25 are invited to showcase their art and voices alongside PBJ Campus Organizers who will be sharing poems, presentations, video, photo projects at their showcase event on Friday 4/18 from 6-7:30 in the Alfalfa’s Community Room.

Please submit your ideas and art by Wednesday 4/16!


Email to submit or for more information!

Call for Submissions

Sexist Ad Critique














By Alethea Tyler

This ad is absolutely ridiculous. First of all, I have no idea what they are advertising.  I had to look it up.  Redtape is a store for men’s apparel, footwear, and accessories. What do those women have to do with any of those things? Second of all, the women in this picture have become an object, one hundred percent. Not only are they in a vending machine looking like dolls, but they are being bought.  By a male.  This shows who is dominant in the situation.  Who do you think? The women stuck in glass boxes or the man with the ability to free one of them by purchasing her based off of looks? There is no point in objectifying women in this way, yes sex sells, but only because we let it.  And if we protest against these kind of ads then we will begin to see a change, but only then.

The relationship between sexist advertising and sexual assault and relationship abuse may not be extremely obvious, but the thing is, they have much more to do with one another than one may think. This picture displays the male being in control. What we don’t realize is that on a daily basis we are bombarded with up to 5,000 ads.  That means that we are seeing messages similar to that 5,000 times a day and 1,825,000 a year. It is guaranteed to have some effect on us.  This is guaranteed to have some effect on us. 84% of spouse abuse victims are female. Could this have some correlation with what is presented in the media? If we are seeing 730,000 ads a day and to be fair and have some faith in humanity, 600,000 of them are sexist, than we are repeatedly having the idea of one gender being dominant over the other 600,000 times a year.

This sets up expectations of what a typical heterosexual relationship will be like.  It also is disrespectful to women. Nobody forced them to do that right? In most cases yes, they are hired actresses.  But it is the norm for women to have no power in these ads, or be hyper sexualized. Here are some more examples: