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Westchester County nonprofit brings domestic violence awareness to teenagers, young adults

Nonprofit brings domestic violence awareness to Westchester Co. high school
Nonprofit brings domestic violence awareness to Westchester Co. high school 02:09

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- A nonprofit in Westchester County is raising awareness on domestic violence, starting with teens and young adults.

CBS New York's Jenna DeAngelis sat down with a survivor who shared how the organization behind this all changed her life.

"Just many, many years of emotional abuse," she said.

The mother of four felt more comfortable without her face on camera as she shared her story -- one of strength, escaping an unhealthy relationship.

"There's a lot of fear and anxiety about moving forward ... and then when there are children involved, you have to think of them first," she said.

One day, she had enough, walked through the doors of Pace Women's Justice Center and never looked back.

"I just can't even tell you how my life was transformed," she said.

The nonprofit offers free legal services to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and elder abuse, helping more than 2,000 people each year.

"We want them to understand their legal rights and their options, and we wanna make sure that they're safe," said Cindy Kanusher, executive director of the Pace Women's Justice Center.

Kanusher says education and conversation are critical tools for prevention and intervention. That's why it launched the "Love Isn't" campaign, posting the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship to raise awareness.

The campaign says love isn't threatening, entrapping, assaulting, while also promoting what love is.

"We feel it's really important for us to try and do this at an early stage for young people," Kanusher said.

They're taking the efforts from social media to Ardsley High School.

"This is something so purposeful," Ardsley High School Principal Danielle Trippodo said.

There, attorneys from the organization are teaching students their legal rights ahead of college. This is the second year bringing the program to the school.

"It was a good exposure, especially for seniors," high school senior Emma Thomas said.

"Knowing about the good Samaritan law and knowing that regardless of the situation you're in, you can always receive help and you won't be penalized as a result," high school senior Jack Johnson said.

"Kids learning about safety and their rights ... is just incredible," high school social worker Monique Johnson said.

The Pace Women's Justice Center is keeping healthy love at the heart of it all.

Anyone seeking services can walk into the main office in White Plains or at any of the Westchester family courts and, of course, you can always call the main office at 914-422-4069. For more information, click here.

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