Dating is something that everyone experiences at one point in their lives, but it may not necessarily be healthy, especially for teenagers. Findings suggest that nearly one-third of teen relationships are either unhealthy or violent due to communication gaps or lack of maturity. While both boys and girls can be victims of teen dating violence, girls are far more likely to suffer. The social media boom, too, has played a crucial role in aggravating abusive behavior as teenagers are more impressionable at that age. Teenage dating violence is particularly dangerous as they are often afraid to tell a parent or a friend about their situation, and that leads to the problem escalating over time. Mya Kermelewicz, youth advocate, public speaker, relationship coach, and founder of MK Prevention Services, works towards changing the lives of many through educating on and preventing teen dating violence.
Mya’s years in college studying psychology and creative arts therapy, volunteering in schools, and working at the Jeanne Gieger Crisis Center, fueled her desire to work with teens and young adults to empower them. As she obtained her MBA during the pandemic, she noticed that many youth advocacy programs had to shut down temporarily. Mya wanted to do her bit for society and start a program in schools around dating violence.
Unfortunately, Mya had experienced unhealthy relationships and dating violence herself at the age of 13 and had no one to pull her out of that rut. This led her to believe that she could empower students by imparting knowledge that was “relatable” to help them differentiate between healthy and unhealthy relationships and a voice to protect themselves and others from ever being in such unwarranted situations. To give wings to this dream, she founded MK Prevention Services in 2021. Interestingly, in a couple of months, her venture took off well as she got the opportunity to speak to over 2,300 students and faculty members. Mya had found her calling as she engaged high school and college students in meaningful conversations surrounding healthy and unhealthy relationships and sexual assault by delivering captivating stories, informative content, and creating personal connections.
A firm believer in embracing difficult conversations and encouraging students to have a voice, Mya educated them on how to protect themselves and others through learning warning signs of abusive relationships, tools to get them the help they need, how to save a friend in need, and therapeutic methods for healing if they have experienced dating violence. She believes in “empowering students so that they can empower others around them.” To this effect, MK Prevention Services offers assistance in three categories – Package One introduces empowerment, Package Two builds a deeper connection, and Package Three works towards creating an empowered community. Mya also does public presentations, group facilitation, and one-on-one consultations to educate and create awareness about sexual assault as well.
Leaving Toxicity Behind
As a Relationship Coach, Mya “empowers her clients to accomplish their relationship goals through practicing trust, honesty, communication, and most importantly, loving to their greatest potential.” She focuses on self-love and confidence-building as critical aspects, as her coaching goes beyond just romantic and social relationships. She emphasizes that the relationship you have with yourself is the most important One and also works towards coping with social and generalized anxiety. Every relationship has its ups and downs, and Mya helps her clients discover and leverage their unique attributes to feel loved, secure, and appreciated in all relationships through consistent support, goal tracking, utilizing new tools, and role-playing. Mya’s mission is to create a world where the dating violence and sexual assault statistics are at the lowest and create campuses where students stand empowered, knowledgeable, and safe.
Like any other person, Mya has her off days, too, especially when she feels bogged down by reliving her trauma during the coaching sessions. That is when she practices self-care to pull herself out of the sinking thoughts. She has learned to accept her feelings and allows herself to go through the emotional block to eventually come out of it. She engages in doing her favorite things like yoga or reading to take her mind off things and takes a day off to feel herself again.
Many teens do not speak about their troubles with their parents as they fear admonishment. Mya first tries to make them understand that they are not alone and that it is okay to talk freely and go into panic mode. The goal is to stop the violence before it even begins, so it becomes imperative to begin by educating preteens and young teens about how to form healthy relationships with others. Education and awareness are powerful tools that Mya uses to empower and make her clients feel loved and supported rather than judged or blamed.
A businesswoman herself, Mya has faced her fair share of challenges in an industry that is largely male-dominated. But she did not let others affect her goal of creating an impact in whatever way she could. “People will always tell you that you cannot do something and try to pull you down. As a 23-year-old who is also trying to make it out there, I tell those people to watch me succeed with sheer hard work and passion for making a difference. So, channel your inner power and go for it, even if all the odds seem to be against you. Network and talk to other businesswomen for inspiration and mentoring if needed. Also, start empowering other women, as it is a chain reaction,” Mya added.
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