Breaking the Cycle – part 2
by April Ballestero
The cycle of domestic violence, as shared in part 1 of our 12 part series is an increasingly deeply personal concern, yet for many a silent killer. The teenager’s stories shared in our media are sadly helping spread the awareness and education. Hope is what we want to give teens of today to get the resources they need and uncover the signs, a few of the effects, and some ways of addressing the victim. We want to give them signs which are supposed to guide or warn the victims, the parents, and the community to create a need to break this domestic violence cycle. Digging into the immense amount of research, statistics, and types of violence, we can only scratch the tip of the iceberg as we open the eyes of our society.
Sacramento County, the state capital of California, had 16 child homicides, seven of the victims were between the ages of 15-17 and one in the age of 10-14. Three of those victims came from families with a history of domestic violence. Thus, this shows why the website www.findcounseling.com shares that 3.3 million children, across the United States, are exposed to physical and verbal spousal abuse each year. FBI statistics shared in the book Defending our Lives by Susan Murphy-Milano, “a woman is beaten every 15 seconds and a rape is committed every 6 minutes. One in every woman has, by the age of eighteen, been physically abused by a boyfriend, and half of all couples have had at least one violent incident.” One in three teenagers personally experienced violence in a dating relationship according to the www.safeyouth.org. The same site shares that 81% of parents surveyed didn’t know it was an issue or didn’t believe it was an issue. Victims take years to realize how they have chosen to give up control of their life and repeat cycles because they didn’t have awareness, resources, and the stories. Social websites, texting, abuse in dating, and face to face such as bullying, have been known to cause deaths. For teens, domestic abuse is known to take multiple forms which include excessive possessiveness and jealousy. Abusers manipulate their partners in numerous ways with threats or actions including insulting them in front of friends, stalking them, insisting on making all of the decisions, forcing them to have sex, or threatening to kill themselves. The pattern for teen abuse is similar to adult domestic violence in that there is repeated violence that increases over time. However, sometimes teens do not have the maturity to even realize that they are involved in a violent relationship and that is where the parent can help.
Sadly, most all victims keep quiet about harassment or violence of a fellow peer for fear that they will be socially ostracized or that their parents will find out and stop their relationships, their privileges, or their social communication via technology. Teens can also have a difficult time separating from their abuser because they often attend social programs, school, or church with them. The questions and lies that are told can be demystified at websites such as www.breakthecycle.org where a parent and teen can ask themselves questions about abuse that is possible.
In recent years, schools and educational institutions have started educating teens about dating violence. States like Virginia and Rhode Island, require such instruction in public schools. Unfortunately most states do not have such a mandate and two of the three new programs that were created by the federal Violence Against Women Act in 2005 to address teen dating were never funded. However, multiple websites, such as www.breakthecycle.org, help teenagers choose healthier relationships when they are able to identify the warning signs of an abusive relationship and realize that they are human beings that deserve to be treated with respect. Loveisrespect.org is another site where tables, like the one in this article can be found. End Abuse website, http://endabuse.org is another site in which they represent Senator’s such as Mike Crapo (R-ID) and others who are creating awareness and resources to prevent and end abuse.
The signs to help notify you that a friend or loved one may be in a domestic violent relationship could include: Put downs and name calling, talking to someone of the opposite sex and partner gets extremely jealous, even when it’s completely innocent, apologizing for her/his partner’s behavior and makes up excuses about their behavior or attitude, frequently cancels plans at the last minute, for reasons that sound untrue, partner is always checking up on her/him, constant phone calls, text messages, IMs and e-mails from her/his partner demanding to know where they are and who they’ve been with, partner lose their temper, maybe even break or hit things when they’re mad, and isolation and lack of participation in activities that they used to enjoy regularly. Another sign could be if their weight, appearance or grades have changed dramatically could also be signs of depression, which could indicate abuse.
The statistics become more real when it has a person names or story attached to it, such as the media story of a serious attack between two high profile individuals Rihanna and Chris Brown, yet throughout the US there are devastating stories. A Cry for Character , a very alarming book shares many of these stories, including in May 19, 1998, where a 18 yr old honor student in Fayetteville, TN, shot off his gun in a school parking lot to kill another student who had been dating his ex girlfriend. In Indianapolis , where Heather Norris, who was 17 was killed by her boyfriend of three years and featured in the New York Times article dated Jan. 3, 2009. In Texas, also mentioned in the NY times and on ABC news where it was a 20/20 report aired April 5, 2005 and followed up Nov 10, 2006, where a young girl was stabbed by the boyfriend she was trying to break up with in the school hallway with a kitchen steak knife to her death. These should all alarm and disgust us to break the vicious cycles happening all around us.
Remember, there are multiple forms of abuse and these are physical, mental, and even in emotional invisible ways. Men who walk away, give silent treatment, some for days at a time, “it is an invisible assault directed at the soul of the woman” is what Lou Brown, father of Nicole Brown Simpson, and other authors declare in their book STOP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE . The victim can take months, years or a lifetime to realize and some get free, others die in the process. We must not overlook what is happening to our teenagers and how it is impacting our schools, our families, and our communities. The cycle could repeat in one relationship or every relationship a victim chooses. It means a victim who has been exposed to violence in their relationships could choose recidivism relationships from there and repeat the cycle.
Help is possible through awareness, education, and change. Communication is very important. The websites have multiple resources of questions, quizzes, examples, short term and long term effects, amongst resources to guide a victim to safety and help. The Child Development Center is another great tool for multiple resources. The following table can help give you talking points:
When talking to your friend:
Resource found on website is the:
Dating Bill of Rights
I have the right to:
- Ask for a date
- Refuse a date
- Suggest activities
- Refuse any activities, even if my date is excited about them
- Have my own feelings and be able to express them
- Say “I think my friend is wrong and her/his actions are inappropriate
- Tell someone not to interrupt me
- Tell my partner when I need affection
- Refuse affection
- Be heard
- Refuse to lend money
- Refuse sex at any time, for any reason
- Have friends and space aside from my partner
I have the responsibility to:
- Determine my limits and values
- Respect the limits of others
- Communicate clearly and honestly
- Not violate the limits of others
- Ask for help when I need it
- Be considerate
- Check my actions and decisions to determine whether they are good or bad for me
- Set high goals for myself
For more information about teen dating and violence: