CLEVELAND, Ohio -- In just over a week, Progressive Field is going to be covered with All-Stars from all over the country for the 2019 MLB All-Star game. However, one specific all-star is always at the field, and she doesn’t even play baseball. What makes Indians' in-park host, Gabriella Kreuz, so special is her desire to help others through her nonprofit organization, Love Doesn’t Shove.
If you’ve been to a Cleveland Indians game, you may recognize Gabriella Kreuz, or as many know her, Gab. She is the in-park host at every home game and will be working nonstop during All-Star week.
“Gab is definitely an all-star not only in our organization but also in the city of Cleveland,” said Curtis Danburg, the Senior Director Of Communications for the Indians.
Here’s what you might not know -- behind that bubbly personality is a trying past. Gab is a survivor of a violent relationship. She says it started with arguments, but then escalated.
“It started with squeezing my wrists or shoving me, pulling my hair or blocking me from leaving, speeding in the car so I can’t leave," said Kreuz, the founder of Love Doesn’t Shove.
One day it got so bad on her college campus, a bystander called police. After that incident, her loved ones got her the help she needed to move on. Two years later, she switched her degree to sociology and created the nonprofit organization, Love Doesn’t Shove.
“Love Doesn’t Shove is meant to educate,” Kreuz said. “It's all about violence prevention and teen dating violence and starting an interacting conversation in schools to help students identify behaviors that are healthy and normal in a dating relationship.”
Kreuz spends much of her free-time visiting schools all over Northeast Ohio and using her past to help teens identify that healthy behavior. She also tells them about the places available where they can get help.
She also makes it a point to make sure the students know victims can be of any race or gender. She says this isn’t a women’s movement and doesn’t have a political agenda.
“The big part of Love Doesn’t Shove is that it’s an open and inviting conversation to both genders,” Kreuz said. “We have a lot of great discussions that goes both ways."
Unfortunately, teen violence is way too common. According to Cleveland’s Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center, one in three adolescents goes through some form of it in their lifetime and 1.5 million high school students across the country will experience physical violence in a dating relationship. They also say it’s starting younger than people think. Statistics show 22 percent of women and 15 percent of men experience their first encounter of dating violence as young as 11 to 17 years old.
"A lot of times this is their first romantic relationship and they’re exploring and don’t know what to expect or know what’s healthy so that makes them really vulnerable,” said Melissa Graves, the CEO of Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center, or DVCAC. She added, “Teens also grow up living their lives online so the whole cyber abuse is really a big deal.”
Graves says there are a lot of early signs.
“If your partner is overly jealous and over possessive telling you who you can hang out with and monitoring your social media without your permission that’s a real warning sign,” Graves said. “Throwing and breaking things when they are angry is another clear red flag.”
Kreuz says she doesn’t consider herself a victim and isn’t negative about relationships but instead is optimistic about love and the future. She says she sees herself as someone who just wants to help.
“I had so many people help me that it just feels natural and right to keep that going and give to other people and help them because I know how blessed I’ve been,” Kreuz said.
Kreuz has been working for the Cleveland Indians for four years. The Indians say they love having her fun and spunky personality around during games but they also love her dedication to helping others.
“We have such a philanthropic culture here at the Indians,” Danburg said. “It’s great to have her be such an important part of our brand and taking it outside, especially with a cause like domestic violence which is very important to Major League Baseball and the Indians.”
For more information on how you can get your school involved in Love Doesn’t Shove, visit their website here.
For anyone who thinks they or a loved one may be a victim to domestic violence, you can get help. Cleveland’s Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center has a 24-7 helpline. You can call 216-391-4357 (HELP). Even if you want to remain anonymous and just talk, you can. You can also visit their website here.