One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. In addition to this, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
Demi Brae Cuccia was a vibrant, young high school student who was fiercely loved by friends and family. Demi’s life came to a sudden end in 2007, two weeks after breaking up with her first boyfriend who she determined was becoming overly jealous and possessive. She was brutally stabbed 16 times by this young man – one day after her 16th birthday.
Following this horrific murder, in 2009, Demi’s family founded the Demi Brae Cuccia Awareness Organization aimed at educating youth, parents and communities on the real dangers associated with Teen Dating Violence.
Demi’s father, Dr. Cuccia, is convinced her death could have been prevented if they had known of the warning signs associated with Teen Dating Violence.
Dr. Cuccia’s advice to all parents – “Don’t be afraid to pry into your teens lives. Be perceptive and notice what is going on in their relationships. Educate yourself about the warning signs so that you can spot the red flags.”
Identifying Teen Dating Violence isn’t always easy. Abuse is a pattern of behavior used to gain control and maintain power over someone – and it can take many forms, some more subtle than others.
As her father, Dr. Cuccia now wants Demi’s name to live on through awareness and education – ensuring that every middle and high school student receives valuable information on dating relationship violence and abuse.
“Doing this advocacy work has helped me to heal the most. I want to make sure that Demi’s life will stand for something and let her story save lives and help other teens to make healthy choices in their relationships.” –Dr. Cuccia
Awareness is key. Visit loveisprespect.org to learn about the warning signs and red flags to look for, whether you are a teen, friend, parent or loved one.
You can also visit www.demibrae.com to learn more about Demi’s story and how the Demi Brae Cuccia Awareness Organization is reaching out to teens throughout our community.