Speers’ 19-year-old daughter Monica was murdered in 1991 by
her former boyfriend. Since that tragedy, Dawna has shared Monica’s
story with thousands of youth, educators and other youth advocates
in schools and communities across Canada, identifying the warning
signs of relationship abuse. Dawna collaborated with and the to produce the 1999 award-winning
documentary A Love That Kills, which chronicles Monica’s
story and identifies warning signs symptomatic of abusive relationships.
The response has been overwhelmingly positive and the film has now
become the ’s top-selling product.
Dawna Speers, together
with Nathan Neumer, director of the film A
Love That Kills and Maggie Babcock, abuse prevention educator,
established the Speers Society as a charitable organization (88107
4215 RR001) in February 2001.
In response to educators throughout
the country and with the assistance of youth and many expert youth
advocates, the Speers Society has
developed Choices for Positive Youth Relationships to
prevent relationship abuse.
Choices for Positive Youth Relationships combines
the film A Love That Kills with a six-lesson, curriculum-based
instructional guide for use in secondary school classrooms. Through
of discussions and activities, youth have the opportunity to identify
warning signs symptomatic to abusive relationships, develop skills
and strategies to sustain positive relationships, and connect to
supportive community resources.
Choices for Positive Youth Relationships was piloted in 14 secondary
schools in Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Nova Scotia.
Evaluation data was collected from both youth and educators and
in Toronto. Students
that they learned how to be more positive in interpersonal relationships.
The vast majority of students (89%) reported that the program
helped them to recognize the warning signs of abuse. In addition,
majority of students felt that the program was effective in helping
safe behaviours and help a friend in an abusive relationship.