Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara County will host an event this Thursday in the Santa Barbara Central Library to educate the community about teen dating violence and prevention.

The program will take place in the SBC Library’s Faulkner Gallery from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider will attend the gathering and announce the winners of the “What is Love” poster contest, which aims to visually spread knowledge of the presence and danger of violence in teenage relationships.

Schneider said the meeting will shed light on the realities of relationship violence in an interesting and powerful manner.

“[The event] is fabulous for a number of reasons; it talks about and reaches out to teens about what domestic violence is and how to get help, but it also does it in a very creative way with the poster contest,” Schneider said. “Sometimes using art as a way to express and get information out can be more powerful than just words. I have always been very inspired by these kinds of events and I am excited to see the winning posters tomorrow.”

Domestic Violence Solutions will host several events this month — declared National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month by President Barack Obama — as a part of its “What is Love” series.

Christy Haynes, director of Teen Programs at Domestic Violence Solutions for Santa Barbara, said the organization provides a vital support role for dating violence victims in the community.

“All of our programs are activity-based … we make the kids aware of the [four] forms of dating violence: physical, verbal, emotional and sexual violence,” Haynes said. “We also want to talk about why it’s so hard to get out of [harmful] relationships once you’re in them, and how dangerous it can be when trying to get out of those relationships. We’re really dedicated to not only bringing awareness but also communicating what actions they need to take to keep them safe.”

According to Haynes, the organization helped roughly 10,000 youths last year through various programs and activities in schools, juvenile halls and teen centers.

Associate Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Solutions Marsha Marcoe said the nonprofit aims to inform young people about violence before they become victims.

“It is important for teens to be aware and educated so that they do no move into adulthood with the idea that violence is okay,” Marcoe said. “It is much easier to prevent violence than to try to fix it later on, which is why the program focuses on awareness and prevention.”

Marcoe said donations are a vital source of revenue for the program, which is the only such facility in the region.

“We want to let the community know that we are the only agency in Santa Barbara County that is dealing with this issue and so we want to bring awareness and we also want to eventually raise more support for us,” Marcoe said. “With federal and government grants drying up and becoming much more difficult to attain, we have to rely on private donations more and more. This also gives us the ability to go public and let people know what we’re doing.”