Dating violence was never really discussed in Emma's home. Her parent said things like, "no one is allowed to harm you," or "you would tell me if someone hurt you right?" But they never went any further. It never crossed anyone's mind that strong, smart, and popular Emma would ever have a problem with dating violence.
Emma began dating her abuser during their Freshman year of high school. Her parents thought her relationship was a typical teenage one. They spent a lot of time together doing homework, hanging out at each other's house, and going to school functions. Nothing felt out of the ordinary to Emma or her parents. As time went on her mother noticed a shift in Emma's behavior. She seemed terrified to be without her phone. Her mother was concerned but thought she might be overreacting.
Emma didn't know how to talk about what was happening in her relationship. Her abuser had a quick temper, he hated when other guys talked to her, he would constantly say mean things about her body or the way she dressed. When she tried to stick up for herself, things would escalate. He would threaten her physically or spread rumors about her. She found herself just doing whatever he wanted so he didn't get mad. His demands grew. She couldn't talk to anyone unless he approved, she had to always answer his texts, and she had to be available to hang out whenever he wanted. She was scared, but she wasn't sure how to get help.
Thanks to you, a Violence Prevention Center staff member made a presentation to her class on teen dating violence and healthy relationship. Through that presentation, E
ma recognized what was happening in her relationship was dating violence even though her boyfriend never physically hurt her. She reached out for help and started talking to her mother about her abuse. Emma was able to create a safety plan, leave her abuser, and work with a counselor to heal and learn about healthy relationships. Today, Emma is enjoying a typical college experience without an looming abusive relationship. She is thankful for the teen dating violence class and ready to move forward with healthy relationships in the future.