Advocating Strong Mental Health & Healthy Relationships
- Dating Violence
- Mental Health
- Grade 6-12 Students
- College Students
- Teachers & Staff
Fee: $5K-10KInvite Ashley
• At-Risk Dropout to Valedictorian
• Advocate for Mental Health & Healthy Relationships
• Founder of the Blue Hearts Project
Ashley Bendiksen is an award-winning advocate and nationally acclaimed speaker for students and educators.
As a teen and young adult, Ashley was at-risk. She felt alone and hopeless, and everything only grew worse. Yet despite becoming homeless, a college dropout, and a victim of dating abuse and assault, Ashley rose to achieve extraordinary success.
Defying the odds, Ashley became class valedictorian, an award-winning activist, and nonprofit founder. She also discovered her purpose, making it her mission to promote healthy relationships, dating violence prevention, mental health, and resilience.
For over a decade, Ashley has made a transformational impact on the lives of youth and the adults serving them. She combines authentic and relatable storytelling with education, awareness, and practical tools to drive real and lasting change.
In addition, Ashley is the founder of the Blue Hearts Project – a global storytelling platform for survivors. She is also the co-owner of an agency specializing in life coaching for teens and young adults.
A Leading Voice and Experienced Expert in The Field
Ashley’s lived experience is supported by 15 years of professional leadership in the fields of domestic and sexual violence, primary prevention, youth mental health, trauma recovery, and social justice across the education, nonprofit, civic, and government sectors.
EXPERIENCE & QUALIFICATIONS:
• B.A. in Administration of Justice
• Certified in Crisis Response & Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
• Trauma Response & Adverse Childhood Experiences
• Trained in Safe Dates, Green Dot, MVP, and White Ribbon
• Vast experience supporting LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities
• Published best-selling author
• Award-winning advocate leading hundreds of initiatives
• Starred in an award-winning documentary on survivorship
• Philanthropic experience; helped raise millions of dollars for nonprofits
As a former at-risk teen turned youth specialist, Ashley deeply relates to teenage life and knows what young people need to hear. Adolescence isn’t easy. From low self-esteem to anxiety, peer pressure, relationships, dating, and social-emotional challenges, many young people feel alone, overwhelmed, powerless, and even hopeless. This often leads to negative coping habits, endless comparison, and a failure to witness one’s true potential.
To combat this, Ashley delivers the life talk every young person needs. Combining relatable storytelling with research-backed practical advice, Ashley teaches the three foundational life skills every person needs to be resilient and overcome challenges, as well as navigate everyday life and thrive. She shows how each one of us, no matter what, (already) holds the power to direct our own lives.
- Tools to build self-awareness, emotional regulation, self-advocacy, and empowerment
- Understanding of how the quality of your relationships = your quality of life
- Power of reframing, helpful questions, and positive thinking to build resilience
- Strategies to stay positive and mentally healthy in both good and challenging times
- Cognitive behavioral therapy-based tools to manage emotions and make healthy choices
At 14, Ashley was excited about her first dating relationship. Unfortunately, it became abusive, starting a cycle of unhealthy relationships that negatively impacted Ashley during her 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. This can be physical, sexual, or, more commonly, emotional.
These behaviors impact students’ mental health, safety, social-emotional well-being, and academic achievement. As a survivor turned subject matter expert, Ashley teaches teens what a healthy relationship looks like, what to watch out for, what to do when abuse occurs, and how to define and stand up for healthy relationship values.
- Education on dating abuse and top red flags to spot
- Qualities of a healthy relationship vs. costs of a toxic one
- How to set boundaries, define healthy values, and maintain personal priorities
- Seeking help and tips to help a friend
- UPON REQUEST: Sexual assault prevention and consent
In every community, unlimited numbers of youth and children silently experience abuse. In the U.S., 1 in 3 teens experience abuse by a dating partner, with recent data indicating alarming increases in sexual assault among high school teens. Further, 1 in 7 children experience abuse or neglect by someone they know, trust, or are in the care of.
Despite this high prevalence, these issues are often overlooked. Warning signs are often subtle or misunderstood by adults. This lack of intervention leaves youth at risk for further harm, as well as serious short- and long-term consequences. For many, it also becomes an adverse childhood experience that negatively impacts not just their present, but future life. Adults, therefore, play a crucial role in recognizing harm to safeguard the lives of vulnerable youth. With improved awareness and skills, early detection and intervention can save a life and change a child’s path.
- Education and awareness of how youth experience abuse
- The impact of abuse/neglect on academic, social emotional, and mental health
- Crucial role adults play in early detection and intervention
- Red flags to look for, plus simple intervention and referral strategies
- Proactive ways to increase safety and promote prevention
Ashley Bendiksen has a rare talent for compelling audiences to take action. As a survivor, activist, experienced speaker, and subject matter expert, Ashley helps audiences connect with the issues and understand the impact of their contributions.
Her heartbreaking yet deeply inspiring story builds connection, optimism, and hope, while her advocacy work is proof that prevention and change are possible. With an added background in nonprofit leadership and a track record of raising over $5 million for dozens of charities, Ashley is guaranteed to make an impact for your organization.
If you’re seeking a dynamic and memorable speaker that moves your audience plus engages them to invest and take action, Ashley is your speaker. Keynotes will be customized to your organization’s mission and specific event goals and include the following outcomes.
Ashley Bendiksen was everything we wanted in a keynote speaker for our nonprofit’s fundraiser. She’s a topical expert on relationship abuse prevention and brought the perfect mix of authenticity, humor, and seriousness. Ashley left our guests deeply inspired to support our work and mission, and we raised $408,000. —One Love Foundation
- Ashley’s deeply moving story as a former at-risk youth and survivor of domestic violence, teen dating violence, sexual assault, and complex trauma
- The pressing need and life-saving impact of organizational work, as evidenced by Ashley’s decade of leadership in the field
- Pertinent supporting facts, reflection, and dialogue-inducing questions for your audience
- A direct call to action by Ashley to invest in your mission and work, emphasizing how your organization is a catalyst for change
“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