ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- What started as a school project becomes an empowering public service message calling attention to the domestic violence epidemic. Four stateline students have made it their mission to stand up and fight for those struggling.
“I got flowers today.” Just four words, but for these Roosevelt students, these words hit too close to home.
“He said a lot of cruel things to me that really hurt. I know he was sorry and didn’t mean the things that he said because I got flowers today.”
Although they come from different backgrounds, these students share something in common.
“I would just be playing with my dolls and my mom would come into my room just panicking because something that happened with her ex at the time who was very, very abusive,” said Roosevelt Senior Amaya Jones.
“My mother also suffered from domestic violence,” said sophomore Anna Tizapantzi.
“I've been abused in relationships verbally,” said senior Julianna Gutowski.
Amaya, Anna and Julianna were part of a group wanting to raise awareness on the issue of domestic violence. So they recited the poem titled 'I got flowers today' at the school's teen dating violence assembly.
“Last night, he threw me against the wall and started to choke me. It seemed like a nightmare. I couldn’t believe it was real. I woke up sore and bruised all over. I know he must be sorry because he sent me flowers today.”
The emotional poem touches on the hardships survivors go through when an abusive relationship escalates.
“Last night he beat me up again and it was much worse than the other times. If I leave what will I do? I’m scared to leave him but he must be sorry because he sent me flowers today.”
“What I think we're trying to get with this video is we're trying to raise awareness and I guess for people to step up a little,” said Tizapantzi.
Domestic violence makes up 41 percent of the city's crime rate. Roosevelt hosts this assembly each year to teach its students about healthy relationships.
“I love seeing students take the initiative to do something that has meaning outside of themselves and the classroom,” said the school’s social worker Nicole Rundall-Royal.
“A lot of students definitely experienced it just here alone so i definitely know it will hit home for them,” said Jones.
And they're hoping it will hit home for others in similar situations, not only in their school but throughout our entire community.
“To see young people stand up and say enough is enough we have to fight back on domestic violence, end this cycle, it's just really inspiring,” said Mayor Tom McNamara.
After seeing the performance at the assembly Mayor Tom McNamara wanted the girls to make this video to show others the severity of domestic violence.
“Today was a very special day. It was the day of my funeral. Last night he finally killed me. He beat me to death. If only I had gathered enough courage and strength to leave him, I would not have gotten flowers today.”
“You ask ‘why didn’t she leave?’ but we ask why did he hit?”
You can find the link to the full video below.