Cultivating Healthy Relationships, Personal Leadership, and Ending Abuse
- Health & Wellness
- Professional Development
- Youth Development
- Middle & High School
- Parents & Teachers
Fee Range: $1K-5KInvite Ashley
Ashley Bendiksen is an award-winning activist, dating violence prevention educator, and top motivational speaker for students and educators. She combines heartfelt storytelling, education and practical strategies for change.
1 in 3 teens. 1 in 4 women. 1 in 7 men.
Our children, family, friends, and neighbors are all impacted by domestic abuse. As bystanders, so are we. Left unaddressed, this damages self-esteem and creates barriers to success.
Ashley Bendiksen is a National Speaker, Award-Winning Activist, and Prevention Expert specializing in domestic violence and sexual assault prevention, social justice, women’s empowerment, and leadership development. She is sought after as a top speaker for youth and schools, as well as women’s conferences and leadership conferences.
From Homeless to Valedictorian and Award-Winning Activist
Ashley graduated as Class Valedictorian of Salve Regina University – remarkably, seven years after dropping out due to abuse and homelessness. With a B.A. in Administration of Justice, she built an accomplished career in crime and victim services, advocacy, and prevention. Further, her unique public relations background placed her in key communications roles in the justice field, and other business and nonprofit sectors.
Known for her activism, Ashley has held leadership positions within dozens of major nonprofits, in addition to founding her own social change initiatives. She currently serves on two nonprofit boards and is the Founder of the Blue Hearts Project, a global storytelling platform for survivors, and the SouthCoast Women’s Network.
ASHLEY’S EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND:
• B.A. in Administration of Justice, Class Valedictorian, Salve Regina University
• Massachusetts Victim Assistance Academy, Certified Advocate
• Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance, Extensive Continuing Education
• Trained DV/Rape Crises Counselor, The Women’s Center New Bedford
At 14, Ashley was excited about her first dating relationship. Unfortunately, the relationship became abusive, starting a cycle of abusive relationships that would negatively impact Ashley during her entire adolescence – personally, socially, emotionally, and academically.
Sadly, Ashley’s story is not unique. In the U.S., 1 in 3 teens will experience dating violence, while 1 in 5 high school students know someone being abused. Abuse can be physical or emotional. Teens experience things like unfair pressure and expectations, threats and manipulation, location monitoring, constant digital connection, and even physical and sexual assault. These then impact student mental health, physical safety, social-emotional well-being, and academic achievement.
This demonstrates how critical it is to teach teens what a healthy relationship looks like, what to watch out for, and what to do when abuse occurs.
- Awareness of teen dating violence and unhealthy behaviors
- Types of abuse and common red flags
- Qualities of a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP
- How to set boundaries
- Courage to speak up, seek help, or help a friend
From college dropout to Valedictorian, award-winning activist, and social entrepreneur, Ashley is living proof that “anything is achievable.” This presentation helps students stay focused, motivated, and positive – no matter what challenges they face. It also inspires students to set big goals and become leaders, personally, in their communities, and even globally.
Ashley’s powerful story motivates students to aim high and believe in themselves, plus teaches them key life skills. Her story highlights common issues that students today face – peer pressure, lack of confidence, self-criticism, dating violence, unhealthy relationships, bullying, poor decision-making, and a reluctance to seek help. Additionally, Ashley addresses every student’s desire to succeed. She helps them tap into what it is they want, and who they want to be – from personal goal-setting to standing out as leaders that can influence social change.
- Personal leadership and developing the right mindset
- ‘Big picture’ thinking to prioritize goals and assess decisions
- Embracing mentorship, active participation, and experiential learning
- Overcoming adversity / non-traditional paths can lead to success
- Making an impact with volunteerism, social activism, and mission-driven work
Every student has the power to be a leader, helper, and change-maker in social settings. Why? Because every student is a bystander, and bystanders play a key role in preventing harm. Unfortunately, research shows that most bystanders don’t act because they’re just not sure what to do or how to help.
This dynamic and interactive presentation helps turn ‘passive bystanders’ into ‘active bystanders’ through education, simple intervention strategies, role-playing, and scenario-based activities. Bystander intervention is a proven violence prevention approach and can be applied to dating violence, sexual assault, bullying, peer pressure, hate speech, and other harms. It’s also proven to shift and strengthen school culture.
- Engaging bystanders as role models and to reduce harm
- Building leadership, empathy, and kindness
- Discovering your unique intervention “style”
- How to recognize red flags and safely offer help
- Shift in school culture, attitudes, and safety
Adults hold the responsibility of guiding and supporting the students they serve. This means it’s critical for them to stay informed on the issues today’s youth face. This presentation empowers educators as bystanders. They will understand the prevalence and impact of teen dating violence on students, and their role to help a student in need.
Attendees will hear Ashley’s story, coupled with valuable education and skills training. Depending on the event, Ashley will also address how to cultivate and teach healthy relationship skills across all ages. For direct service providers (those working with abused or at-risk youth), Ashley offers professional development for improved and effective response and support.
- Teen dating violence awareness and common red flags
- Secondary impact on SEL, academic, and student well-being
- Simple intervention skills to refer a student to help
- Increase in overall school wellness
- PD: Trauma-informed and empowerment-based support
“I have never heard a speaker's name mentioned so many times! We wanted our keynote speaker to start off the conference weekend strong and Ashley exceeded all of our expectations! Over the weekend, I heard her name mentioned over and over again.”Nicole K, Massstar Youth Leadership Conference
“No one could believe that a woman so young, beautiful, and full of life had been through such a traumatic experience, and then gone on to find so much success. Our participants were so moved and touched by her story that they have asked her to come back and speak again.”Gail F, Executive Director of YWCA
“Ashley has my highest endorsement! She has the ability to read audiences, create a safe environment for sharing ideas, and possesses the necessary personal skills, empathy and passion to engage any type of audience – even the most seasoned professionals.”Eric B, Founder of Difference Makers
“From delivering the keynote address at our biggest event of the year, to running an effective workshop session for our students - I have seen firsthand why Ashley is a leading speaker for youth. She delivers a powerful message that engages students, is relevant and memorable, and just as important, compels them to take action afterwards.”Jeffrey P, President Junior Achievement of Southeastern Massachusetts
“Ashley was a dynamite speaker and presenter whose passion for helping others is clearly evident. Our members were enlightened and motivated to continue their work across the state to assist and advocate on behalf of victims of domestic violence.”Donna S, General Federation of Women's Clubs