Building Healthy Relationships: Recognizing the Red Flags of Dating Violence in your Teen

February was Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Teen Dating Violence impacts millions of teens in the United States every year. According to the CDC, one in 11 female teens and one in 15 male teens reported experiencing physical dating violence in the past year. Individuals who identify as LGBTQ are more likely to experience dating violence. Dating violence is not just physical harm. Stalking, sexual and psychological aggression are all acts of violence which can take place in person or online.

As a parent or caregiver, it is important to be able to detect the signs of dating violence and to have an open and honest conversation with your teen. Talking to your children about healthy relationships can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but it is essential. Here are some tips and tools to use to be able to talk with your teen about the possibility of teen dating violence:

  • Make it clear to your child that being in a relationship can feel thrilling, but it should never feel dangerous. Physical harm of any kind is not love, no matter what words are attached to it.
  • A partner should never force your teen to participate in sexual activities they are not comfortable with, nor engage in sex without their consent.
  • Extreme jealousy and insecurity, an inability to control one’s temper and extreme moods swings are common characteristics of perpetrators of dating violence. Perpetrators of dating violence attempt to control their partner’s life and  isolate them from family and friends. If a partner is trying to police where your child is going, who they are seeing, and what they are talking about, this is a sign of dating violence.
  • Though COVID-19 may have disrupted some of the more physical manifestations of teen dating violence, violent behavior can manifest itself online, too. With teens spending more time online than ever before, it can be difficult as a parent to decipher what is normal and what is harmful technological engagement. Make sure your child knows that threats or blackmail, false accusations, constant and disruptive calls and texts, and forcing someone to send inappropriate photos or constant updates on their whereabouts are all unhealthy behaviors. If a partner asks your child to share their passwords or logs into your child’s email, phone, or social media without their consent, this is also a red flag.
  • Finally, as parents and caregivers, it is important to reflect on one’s own habits and behaviors in relationships, and think about how these habits might be interpreted by our children. Learning how to behave in a relationship begins at home. Be sure your child knows what a relationship should be: mutual respect, encouragement, trust, good humor. Violence is simply not an option.

Center for Hope is Hiring!

We have several grant-funded positions for which we are now hiring! Please share these among your networks. We will be posting more soon as we expand our programs, so if you know of colleagues who would be a good fit for our growing team, please share this link to all of our open positions with them. (Qualified candidates only please, as many roles require certain licensures and experiences to be able to fulfill the required role.)

Current openings include:

Faces of Hope: Audrey Bergin, DOVE Program

About DOVE

The DOVE program offers a wide array of services to victims and survivors of intimate partner violence. Based at Northwest Hospital in Randallstown, the program serves those facing physical and emotional abuse in relationships, whether they are patients, those referred after police-involved incidents or self-referred members of the community. The DOVE Program offers survivor-centered, trauma-informed help that is free and confidential, regardless of race, age, religion, gender identification or sexual orientation. Services include crisis intervention in the hospital, safety planning, the Lethality Assessment Program that works to supports victims identified by police, court accompaniment and legal representation for protective orders, counseling services, support groups, on-going case management, and training and outreach for the community. All DOVE services embrace the survivor’s empowerment, as DOVE staff work together with clients on client-defined goals. DOVE is committed to ending violence and views the problem as a social justice issue, recognizing the compounded effects of sexism, racism, poverty, able-ism, homophobia, ageism and other forms of oppression on the individuals whom the program assists.

Meet Audrey

Audrey Bergin started the DOVE program in 2004 because she recognized domestic violence as a public health issue, and wanted to use her years of experience working with abused children and survivors of domestic violence to make a difference. DOVE was the fourth hospital-based domestic violence program in Maryland and the first in Baltimore County. Audrey and the DOVE Program have won numerous awards for their work. Audrey plays a leading role in statewide and local efforts to counter domestic violence, as past president of the Maryland Health Care Coalition Against Domestic Violence and as the chair of Baltimore County’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, among other positions.

Adapting to a Pandemic

COVID has meant increased stressors on victims of domestic violence in terms of their health, financial pressures, and the dangers of being quarantined with abusive partners. DOVE has had to shift its work capacity to ensure that services are still accessible to patients and clients. Many forms of contacts, from counseling appointments to support groups and more, have shifted to virtual platforms. Use of phones and even texting has also increased; DOVE staff ensure that the calls happen when an abuser is not present, and they will establish a safety plan with clients when necessary on how to handle keeping these communications safe and private, as well as what to do if confidentiality is compromised.

Growth and Impact

DOVE has grown from a small program serving 100 survivors each year to the largest, most comprehensive hospital-based program in the state, serving over 1,400 individuals each year. Even though the pandemic has presented challenges to service delivery as DOVE staff work remotely and clients may find barriers to accessing help, in 2020 DOVE Staff worked with 1,427 survivors, providing over 7,000 follow up services (including 1,426 counseling sessions and 1,595 legal services). DOVE has come to be seen as the major domestic violence service provider in western Baltimore County.

Local Artist Donating Portion of Sales to BCAC

Traumatized children aligning with Jupiter and Saturn, acrylic on canvas 16 x 20 in.

Thanks to Baltimore-based artist Ed Kaitz, local art aficionados will have an opportunity to own one of his one-of-a-kind, whimsical, colorful, original artworks while supporting Baltimore Child Abuse Center at the same time. Kaitz has generously offered to donate a portion of sales from all of his artwork as an ongoing gift to support BCAC, an organization close to his heart.

Kaitz is a survivor of early childhood trauma, and as an artist, he creates beautiful, surreal works as a form of expression and a way to share his unique creativity with others. He has had one man shows in and around Baltimore. His work may be found in the private collections of art lovers up and down the East Coast. A lifelong arts enthusiast, Kaitz has been creating unique paintings, mixed media works, drawings, poetry, illustrations and songs since 1999.

“We are grateful that Ed Kaitz considered Baltimore Child Abuse Center when deciding to donate a portion of proceeds from the sale of his artwork to a child abuse organization,” said Adam Rosenberg, LifeBridge Health’s vice president of violence intervention and prevention. “Baltimore area kids will most certainly benefit from Ed’s gift, and art lovers will enjoy owning a piece of unique art while giving back to child abuse survivors at the same time. A win-win for everyone!”

If you would like to inquire about any of his pieces or make a purchase, you can contact the artist directly at or 443-253-1345. You can also see more of his work on Instagram.

Center for Hope Upcoming Events

Save the date! Mark your calendar now for these upcoming Center for Hope events. We hope you can join us.

Thursday, May 6, 1pm

Child advocacy centers are on the front lines in the response to child maltreatment. For decades, their response has impacted millions of child abuse victims and their families—from small towns, rural communities and urban cities. This national collaborative model recognizes that we all have a stake in protecting children. Today, several of the largest centers in the nation are using their collaborative approaches to come together and UNITE in a national conversation to educate, inspire and engage our local communities nationwide in this effort. Join us for a virtual event inspired by child advocacy centers to bring the issue of child abuse to the forefront. This event hopes to connect our local communities on a national stage to bring light to the tireless efforts and the tremendous impact of child advocacy centers and their community partners. More information to come.

Saturday, June 12, 6pm

On Saturday, June 12 starting at 6 pm, join the Center for Hope for this year’s Be A Hero at Home hybrid event. Small groups will be invited to gather in-person outside at the home of the host’s choice, while the program and entertainment parts of the event will be virtual. There are many sponsorship options available, as well as choices to host a table or purchase tickets. For more information, visit or contact Kelly Meltzer at 410-601-9238 or

Center for Hope Upcoming Events

Save the date! Mark your calendar now for these upcoming Center for Hope events. We hope you can join us.

Thursday, February 25, 11 am – 12 pm
Join Center for Hope on Thursday, February 25 from 11 am to 12 pm for our virtual Annual Community Gathering. This annual event recognizes the work by the Center for Hope staff who have made a difference in the lives of individuals through all of our programming, telling the story of our work and vision for the upcoming year. This year’s keynote speaker is Casey Gwinn, the visionary behind the Family Justice Center movement, which has become an international approach of co-locating services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. Learn more about this event and RSVP here.

Saturday, June 12, 6pm

On Saturday, June 12 starting at 6 pm, join the Center for Hope for this year’s Be A Hero at Home hybrid event. Small groups will be invited to gather in-person outside at the home of the host’s choice, while the program and entertainment parts of the event will be virtual. There are many sponsorship options available, as well as choices to host a table or purchase tickets. For more information, contact Kelly Meltzer at 410-601-9238 or

Respite for Frontline Workers

Since COVID began nearly a year ago, LifeBridge Health has been fully committed to the safety and well-being of frontline staff and essential workers. No effort is spared to ensure they are cared for and offered support wherever and whenever needed. Center for Hope’s team is coordinating LifeBridge Health’s newest initiatives to support employee wellness: the Sinai Spa and peer support through Caring for the Caregiver. Under the direction of Sinai President Dan Blum, Vice President of Violence and Intervention Adam Rosenberg and a host of other leaders system-wide, this effort is designed to provide frontline staff with a peaceful escape from the constant and stressful work related to the COVID-19 pandemic, while building resilience in the process.

Now open, the Sinai Spa offers staff the opportunity to take a break from their shift and partake in massage chairs for 10–15 minute interludes while soothing nature sounds play in the background. Other meditative activities include adult coloring books, a Zen sand garden, a sand in water activity and calming cards. If staff cannot come to the spa, the spa comes to them to offer the same moments of peace and comfort, with massage therapists from LifeBridge Health & Fitness rotating among the units most impacted by COVID. The Sinai Spa will be available as long as the impact of COVID is felt by staff. Services are paid for and supported by LifeBridge Health’s Care Bravely Compassion Fund.

Another component of the Sinai Spa is to provide tools that help staff build their resilience. Through critical peer support and training, we help defuse and debrief after challenging shifts or trying moments. The Center for Hope team is well versed in handling trauma and is helping to provide the expert guidance necessary to deal with COVID-related trauma.

According to Adam Rosenberg, “COVID has reignited an understanding of just how important caring for the caregiver is. Efforts to bolster the ability to care for caregivers will continue beyond COVID.” Sinai and LifeBridge Health programs and departments participating in this initiative include: Patient Experience, Nursing, Occupational Health, LifeBridge Health & Fitness and Environmental Services and Facilities Management.

Holiday Wishlist Magic

Longtime Baltimore Child Abuse Center supporter Mandee Heinl and her family generously sponsor families each holiday season. During this most unusual year, Mandee Heinl and her family wanted to help again. What transpired was nothing short of a holiday miracle. Here is a Q&A with Mandee:

Tell us about the collection effort.

For the last few holiday seasons, our family has worked with BCAC to identify a family or two to support and satisfy wish list items. This year, I thought it would be wonderful to bring holiday joy to more Center for Hope families so I put out a call to action. Prior to Thanksgiving I posted on Facebook and asked people to consider sponsoring a family, explaining why the need was so great. I expected several friends to respond, but the support was overwhelming: 72 friends signed up to sponsor families! Case managers assembled wish lists and everyone got to work shopping and wrapping.

What do you think about the response you got from the community?

It was truly amazing! Sponsor families worked from wish lists to purchase new items and delivered them wrapped so everyone had something to open on Christmas morning. Client families received bunk beds, dishes, dining room sets, doll houses, a Nintendo Switch, clothing, gift cards, the list goes on and on. Our community was so incredibly generous and really stepped up, happy to do their part!

What challenges did you face due to COVID?

Anything can be ordered online or picked up, so fulfilling wish lists was manageable. Coordinating 72 sponsor drop-offs (mostly at my home) was a challenge. Friends would text to coordinate a drop-off time, they would mask-up and drop their wrapped items at my front door, get back in their cars and then I could safely come out to say thank you from my doorstep. It required a lot of safety precautions and planning.

Why is this effort so important to you?

I vividly remember going to school during Chanukah and being what felt like the only child who didn’t have shiny, new gifts to open. I understood that we didn’t have enough money for extras, but that didn’t make it any less painful. I can’t make everything better for our client families, but I could help make their holidays a bit more magical. My hope is to reach more families next year!

Did you get your kids involved? Yes! My kids spent many December afternoons shopping for the families, organizing gifts by recipient and delivering everything to BCAC with me. When the kids overheard me mention one family was short by a few gifts, they disappeared into their rooms and returned with money from their piggy banks to help put the final touches on this families wish list. Liv handed me $5 and when I told her it wasn’t necessary, she exclaimed, “We are being helpers, Mommy! Let us help too!” That was a very proud “mommy moment.”

Faces of Hope

Behind the scenes with staff, partners, advocates, and survivors from the Center for Hope

Over the past few months, we have been introducing you to the Center for Hope—the newly formed violence intervention and prevention program that is part of LifeBridge Health’s commitment to help improve the lives of the communities it serves. From Baltimore Child Abuse Center, Safe Streets Belvedere, Sinai Hospital’s violence response team, DOVE at Northwest Hospital to our elder justice program, we share a common goal to help heal children and adults who have suffered from trauma.

Now we will be shining the light on the people behind the scenes that make the new Center for Hope a best-in-class violence and intervention facility. Our dedicated team of professionals are experts in the fields of child abuse, domestic abuse, elder abuse and community violence prevention.

In the coming months our “Faces of Hope” series will introduce you to those who work tirelessly to help heal the wounds of trauma and adverse experiences by offering a safe space dedicated to wellness and hope. These individuals oversee programs that are dedicated to breaking the cycle of violence across the lifespan, working with victims of all ages, races, ethnicities and religions. They spend their days ensuring excellence in the areas of forensic interviews, mental health training, continuing education for youth-serving organizations and advocacy for the most vulnerable populations.   Center for Hope’s team has a dynamic, passionate and committed group of leaders that are shaping the future of our new center. We can’t wait for you to meet them!

Center for Hope Updates

Are you following us on social media?

By now you may have seen the brand changes we’ve made to our social media pages, transitioning from Baltimore Child Abuse Center to LifeBridge Health’s Center for Hope. This transition is the next logical step in moving away from individual programs to one comprehensive team—Center for Hope—that handles trauma across the lifespan.

With this broader vision, social media content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will all now share all our Center for Hope program stories online. In addition to information about Baltimore Child Abuse Center, followers will also have access to education, information and resources from other Center for Hope programming that includes DOVE (Northwest Hospital’s domestic violence program), Safe Streets Belvedere site, Sinai Hospital’s violence response team and a new elder justice initiative. Our new Center for Hope social media content will keep you updated on initiatives, happenings and fast facts all in one place. The good news is that you don’t need to follow or like a new account—our existing accounts which you follow have changed over to the new brand.

We encourage you to like and share our posts so our community continues to grow and expand its audience reach. Ultimately, our presence on social media relies upon you—our engaging followers. Please let us know if there is content you want to see as we work to continue to connect and provide resources and information to our community. We are excited to continue to do this and widen our social audience and impact as LifeBridge Health’s new Center for Hope.

 Center for Hope Fast Facts

  • Center for Hope is a brand new division of LifeBridge Health integrating all of our existing violence intervention and prevention programs to deliver cohesive, effective and committed services to the community we serve.
  • The mission of Center for Hope is to advance hope, healing and resilience for those impacted by trauma, abuse and violence through comprehensive response, treatment, education and prevention.
  • Center for Hope is under the leadership of Adam Rosenberg, who is Center for Hope’s executive director as well as LifeBridge Health’s vice president of violence intervention and prevention. Adam has over 20 years of experience in non-profit management and in combatting violence against children and women. He leads a team of expert professionals who are accredited and trained to resolve trauma and adverse experiences.
  • Center for Hope is the first of its kind integrated violence intervention and prevention response in the nation working with a health system to prevent child abuse, exploitation and human trafficking; stop domestic, family and interpersonal violence; end community violence; and provide elder justice. We work directly with our hospital partners, as well as with organizations in the community who complement our services in the community violence space.
  • Many of the trauma-focused programs will be housed in one central facility on Sinai Hospital’s extended Pimlico campus. This will be a newly constructed $12 million, 32,000 square foot two-story building. Construction is set to begin in early 2021 and is slated to open its doors in early 2022. Our new state of the art facility will house all of our services along with community partners, resource space, therapeutic play, training centers and collaborative areas for solving our community’s most vexing issues.
  • In Fiscal Year 2021, Center for Hope provided hope for over 4,700 children, caregivers, and survivors across all programs. We also provided ongoing education on best practices in violence prevention to over 9,000 professionals from across the country.
  • To learn more about Center for Hope, how to get involved and be part of our ongoing capital campaign, please contact Hilary Corley at 215-300-2618 or