Breaking up with abuse


 By: Dennae Pigford, A&F Editor

Photo:By Dennae Pigford. This is a staged photo of an abuse relationship. Posed by sophomores Harlee Curtis and Elijah Baughman

“One night we were on OOVOO and I wasn’t happy in the relationship anymore, so I told him that I think we should break up. He started crying hysterically and pulled out a knife. He held it to his throat saying I’m sorry I wasn’t good enough but I can’t lose you. I’m gonna kill myself if you do this and he would not put the knife down. I started to panic and I told him never mind and that I would stay for him to keep him alive, regardless of how bad things got,” explained sophomore Tommie Luna, a victim of emotional relationship abuse.

How it all begins:

Teen dating abuse is defined as the physical, sexual, and/or emotional violence within a dating relationship, stalking included. Teen dating abuse is a universal issue that typically goes unnoticed within the majority of cases. It can occur in person or electronically, though majority of teen dating abuse occurs in the home of one of the partners.

Rangeview Counselor Kyle Hirsh found that teen dating abuse is, “when you have one or both partners who are physically or emotionally violent or aggressive in a non-respectable way towards one another.”

“A year into the relationship I realized that I was making sacrifice after sacrifice for him when he wasn’t making any for me,” confesses Luna. “It wasn’t always that way. In the beginning everything was really healthy but as time went by and we got more comfortable with each other we began to take advantage of each other.”

Some teen victims are very concerned about their parent(s) finding out that there has been abuse in their relationships; perhaps  because they are still involved with the abusive partner and do not want to be restricted by a parent to not see their partner. 81 percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue. Many teens have expressed the want to avoid telling their parents even after the relationship was terminated in fear that the parent(s) would “freak out,” would not trust their judgment in the future, or that they would have to reveal lies they may have told their parents when they were still in the relationship.

“I would doubt that many students tell their parents. It feels like a shameful burden that weighed down on your shoulders. Students have a hard time talking to their parents about homework, let alone abusive relationships in any form,” comments sophomore Katie Mayotte.

The centers for disease control and prevention report that though 82% of parents feel confident that they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, a majority of parents – 58% – could not correctly identify all the warning signs of abuse. Random bruises, cuts, scars, marks, etc. are common signs that something bad is happening. Sudden onset of psychosomatic complaints — males most frequently complain of stomach aches while females most frequently report headaches. Sudden difficulty walking or sitting or doing everyday things. Mood swings, most commonly after checking a text or have communication with someone. Sudden isolation from family or friends.

I don’t think anyone gets into an abusive relationship on purpose. I think once a person is involved or serious with somebody, it’s hard to leave a relationship, even when it is abusive,”mentions Ryan Sladek, a Sociology teacher at Rangeview High School.

People stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons: fear, economic dependence, confusion, loss of self-confidence, not recognizing that what’s happening is abusive, belief that the abuser needs their help or will change. Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse reports the editors of

It can be very hard for someone to leave an abusive relationship. It absolutely helps to have positive support around you reinforcing that no one deserves such a relationship, but even still, it can be hard for a person to let go, especially if it’s a longer relationship,” said Sladek. “It is human nature to be attracted to being wanted or needed. To leave a relationship for any reason is hard for someone to do because of the fear of losing that feeling of being wanted but also because of the fear of never finding that attraction again.”

Artist Saint Hoax's latest project, Prince Charmless, depicts Disney princes and princesses with battered and bloody faces to raise awareness about domestic violence.
Artist Saint Hoax’s latest project, Prince Charmless, depicts Disney princes and princesses with battered and bloody faces to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Societal Impact:

Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior and further domestic violence. Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get a sexually transmitted infection according to

“Some people tend to pity you more but other people don’t really see emotional abuse as that big of a deal. It’s kind of just shrugged off,” mentions Luna. “I rarely tell people I am a victim because that’s not what defines me entirely.”

There are many popular myths that people often associate with teen dating violence. While most are not so far fetched, they are far from the truth. For example, Many men who batter do not drink heavily, and many alcoholics do not beat their partners. Further, batterers who do drink don’t necessarily give up battering when they give up drinking.

A lot of what’s in the media makes it seem like it’s okay to be abusive. A way to be a man. Which sends the wrong message. I feel that it’s our responsibility as older men to make a better message, make sure that that’s not the message that goes out,” said Hirsch.

Batters are found in all classes and types of people: rich, poor, professional, unemployed, black, white, urban, and rural. Perpetrators believe they have the right to use abuse to control their partner, and they see the victim as less than equal to themselves. The victim has no control over the abuser.

“I believe that it’s horrible to treat someone you’re in a relationship with with no respect or making them feel as if their insignificant,” declared Rangeview sophomore Elian Dominguez. “Relationships should be about love and a positive attitude to let your partner feel as if they are your world.”

Differences between teen dating abuse and adult dating abuse are experience, peer pressure, and school. This may be the teens first romantic or sexual relationship which raises the chance of them being abused verbally, sexually, or physically.

Societal expectations are also a contributing factor to some abuse cases.There is extraordinary peer pressure, societal pressure and even perhaps parental pressure for teens to have a romantic partner. Particularly for girls to have a boyfriend and for boys to be sexually active.

“I think we have to look at our environment and what surrounds us. The famous phrase, ‘monkey see, monkey do’ does not just apply to kids. If we live in an environment that is full of abuse, or devoid of love, then we will feel that abuse is part of our “normal” life,” stated Sladek.

A couple holds hands while walking down the hallway.
A couple holds hands while walking down the hallway. By-Dennae Pigford

Statistics: reports that several different phrases are used to describe teen dating violence-relationship abuse, intimate partner violence, relationship violence, Dating abuse, Domestic abuse, and Domestic violence. Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. One in three adolescents in the U.S. are a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.

Youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at higher risk for victimization during college. 50% of youth who have been victims of dating violence attempt suicide, compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys who attempt suicide. Teens who have been abused hesitate to seek help because they do not want to expose themselves or are unaware of the laws surrounding domestic violence.

Contrary to the popular myth that victims bring on the abuse themselves, that they ask for it, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 95% of the reported incidents of assaults in relationships are committed by males. There is not an equal ratio between men and women.

“Most teen victims attend the same school as the abuser,” stated by In the worst case scenario, this possesses a serious safety risk to the victim. Even in cases where a restraining order has been issued, the abuser has certain rights that can make safety planning difficult.

One in three teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by his or her partner through violent actions which included hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, and/or choking. Eighty percent of teens believe verbal abuse is a serious issue for their age group, according to Love is

Nearly 80% of girls who have been victims of physical abuse in their dating relationships continue to date the abuser, and; nearly 20% of teen girls who have been in a relationship said that their boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm in the event of a break-up.

Violence is not triggered; it is taught and socialized to human beings. Yes, some violence is associated to psychological disorders, there’s no denying that. But violence is a learned behavior. We are not born violent,” said Sladek.

Violent behavior often begins between 6th and 12th grade when 72% of 13 and 14-year-olds are “dating,” according to Liz Szabo from USA Today. Females between the ages of 16 and 24 are roughly three times more likely than the rest of the population to be abused by an intimate partner. 30% of all women who are murdered in this country are killed by their husband or boyfriend. According to a Massachusetts study that same high percentage applied to teen women aged 15-19, as well.

A staged text of an abusive partner threatening the other emotionally and physically.
A staged text of an abusive partner threatening the other emotionally and physically. By-Dennae Pigford


Risks of having unhealthy relationships increase for teens who believe that dating violence is acceptable, are depressed, anxious, have other symptoms of trauma, display aggressive behaviors, use drugs or illegal substances, engage in early sexual activity, have a friend involved in dating violence, and/or witness/experience violence in the home.

Though it may seem inevitable, there are many ways to avoid an abusive relationship. Dating violence can be prevented when teens, families, organizations, and communities work together to implement effective prevention strategies. Communicating with your partner, managing uncomfortable emotions like anger and jealousy, and treating others with respect are a few ways to keep relationships healthy and nonviolent.

“You don’t really realize it is an abusive relationship until someone tells you. At first you think it’s just what you do because you’re in love with the person and you’d do anything for them but then once someone tells you that’s abuse you start to think about it and feel weak because you let yourself get taken advantage of like that because you loved the person so much,” stated Luna.

People need to realize that they always have the right to end a relationship and that they should always respect someone else’s wish to end a relationship with one another. Get consent for sexual activity, openly communicate with your partner, talk about healthy relationships and sexual respect.
Teen dating abuse is a universal topic that has rapidly increasing numbers day. There are help lines and organizations to prevent dating abuse or to stop it. Society today, though having been accused of starting the problem, is trying to fix it.