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Sophomore encourages Denver to recognize dating violence

Statistics show one in three women will experience dating violence at some point in their lives. For DU sophomore Jenni Talcott, that wasn’t just a startling statistic, it was her reality.

“In high school I was involved in a highly abusive relationship. That year of abuse turned my world upside down,” she says.

 The criminology and psychology major from Englewood, Colo., worked to persuade then-Denver Mayor (now Colorado Governor) John Hickenlooper to recognize February as Dating Violence Awareness Month in the City and County of Denver.

Talcott says she was upset to learn that Dating Violence Awareness Month was recognized by just 22 states, and that Colorado was not among them. “I was angered that my own state neglected to promote such a significant issue,” she says.

It was through her work with the Puksta Scholars Program that Talcott researched the issue and the proclamation process. Through the Puksta program, scholarship recipients participate in a four-year, developmental civic engagement program that moves students from volunteerism to systemic social change work through the community organizing process. 

After she presented her research to Hickenlooper’s office, Talcott’s request was granted and she worked with his staff to draft the official proclamation language.

“Violence is perceived as a private problem when it is really a public epidemic. I want people to acknowledge dating violence’s prevalence in our community and be inspired to take action,” she says. “I never wanted the violence to define me, but over time it has empowered me to share my story and help others.” 

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