Sanctuary, Inc. has a variety of initiatives going on for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

In early February, Sanctuary advocates were tasked with distributing school bathroom ads that highlight signs of dating violence as well as a CDC statistic that 1 in 12 have experienced teen violence.

The public service announcement ads also include our 24/7 crisis hotline number, the name of a Sanctuary victims advocate and a QR code that leads to a quiz about what’s “cool and not cool” in dating.

The goal of the campaign is to reach students in middle and high schools across Sanctuary’s nine-county service region.

“Domestic violence among teens is not uncommon,” said Sanctuary communications and community engagement coordinator Zirconia Vansauwa.

According to, 1 in 3 U.S. teens will experience dating abuse before reaching adulthood.

“Our goal is to educate students on red flags to look for and to know that our advocates are available to help them exit abusive dating relationships,” Vansauwa said.

From left: Zirconia Vansauwa, Sanctuary communications and community engagement coordinator, and Heather Lancaster, Sanctuary executive director, smile at the WKDZ/WHVO radio studio.

On Tuesday, Vansauwa joined Sanctuary Executive Director Heather Lancaster at WKDZ and WHVO radio stations in Cadiz to talk about teen dating violence and the shelter’s upcoming event with the Boys and Girls Club of Hopkinsville-Christian County.

The duo also visited WHOP radio in Hopkinsville on Wednesday to spread the news about the event.

From 5 – 7 p.m. Feb. 28, Sanctuary victims advocate Kenyata Simmons will facilitate a Teen Night and Dinner Party for club members ages 13 and up and their parents.

Dinner is being sponsored by Ro’Mae’s Soulfood Kitchen & Catering.

Programming will include ice breaker games that encourage parents and teenagers to have open dialogue about tough topics.

“My hope for this training is that teens and their parents are educated and equipped with the tools to combat teen dating violence,” Simmons said.

Along with a home-cooked meal, each attendee will leave with a free gift at the end of the event.

One of the best things we can offer our children and teens is a space for them to feel comfortable where they can ask us questions and speak openly on topics related to relationships,” Lancaster said. “We wouldn’t want them assuming that what they hear and see on television and from their peers is the relationship standard to live by. Finding a way to keep the door open for organic conversations will allow for trust and involvement in their lives. “

For more information about becoming a future community engagement sponsor, contact Vansauwa at or 270-839-2265.