North Syracuse woman raises dating violence awareness

And the worst part is that the parents don't know; according to another Liz Claiborne study, 81 percent of parents either believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don't know if it is an issue, and less than 25 percent of teens say they have discussed dating violence with their parents.

"Parents think their kids talk to them, but they don't, not really," Piston said. "And it's not their fault -- they're too busy. In this economy, more parents are working two jobs. They're out of the house more. They don't have the time to talk to their kids about these issues. But they need to make the time."

A difference is MADE

That's why Piston, herself a survivor of domestic abuse, joined MADE, a coalition of parents and advocates fighting dating violence among teens and tweens.

"MADE came out of a meeting of the minds between Redbook and Liz Claiborne Inc.," Piston said. "Liz Claiborne has been doing education on domestic violence for more than 15 years, especially the unknown and unpublicized issue of teen dating violence. Redbook learned about it and wanted to help, so last December they came up with the coalition."

Piston got involved last November, when Redbook published an article spotlighting teen domestic violence and giving tips on how parents can help.

"They were also looking for stories, and I submitted a story about my experience," Piston said. "I saw that I had an opportunity to do some good. I submitted it the day before it was due -- that's how long I sat on this. And this past January, they let me know that they picked my story."

Piston said people are always surprised to learn she was once living with a man who abused her.

"They say, 'You don't seem like the type to put up with that,'" she said. "But you never know how you'll react until you're in that situation."

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