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THE JEFFERSON AWARDS: Our February winner raises dating violence awareness

CANNON FALLS, Minn. (FOX 47) – Every month, FOX 47 features someone in our community who is making a difference and we honor them with a Jefferson Award.

Our February winner is a Cannon Falls woman who teaches young people about healthy relationships.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

But it’s a year-round mission for Micah Jeppeson to make sure what happened to her never happens to anyone else.

“After I graduated high school I was in a relationship and at that point it was about a year and a half relationship that we had been together,” she said. “One night he just kind of snapped and went crazy, and just started hitting me and choking me and almost like he was trying to kill me.”

In hindsight, there were warning signs that she hadn’t noticed.

“He was controlling my money and controlling my friends and my family and he was not only physically at that time abusing me but he was slowly emotionally and verbally abusing me.”

After the attack, Micah went through therapy, then turned to the HOPE Coalition, an organization in Red Wing that helps victims of violence.

Staff members there were so impressed with her resilience, they asked her to share her story with others.

“It’s not very often at HOPE Coalition, and we do, we work with victims of violence, that they want to necessarily come out and talk about it,” said Linda Flanders, Development Coordinator at HOPE Coalition. “It’s usually a very confidential world.”

“I keep saying yes because I like doing it and I like sharing what had happened to me,” Jeppeson said.

Micah also helped make a video to tell her story.

Since then, she’s spoken to schools, community groups, and a statewide conference on victimization.

She’s already seeing an impact.

“We have had some people in the past ask for help,” she said. “Whether it was getting them somewhere safe, or telling someone, get it out in the open.”

“Young people connect with Micah,” said Flanders. “They’re fascinated by her and they’re fascinated by her story and they look at her and they think I can’t believe this happened to you.”

Micah says it’s gotten a little easier to talk about that dark time, although she’ll never be completely over it.

But if it helps others avoid what she endured, it’s worth it.

“I want people to see the signs, and see that it does happen in real life, its not just movies,” she said. “It’s not just made up stuff that there are people around us that have been emotionally, physically, and verbally abused and they don’t show it.”

Micah is currently studying to be a surgical technician.

And if you know someone who’s also making a difference, you can nominate them for a Jefferson Award here.

Erin O'Brien

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