Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
By Jonathan Davila, Class of 2015
It was in the parking lot of a local movie theater on Valentine’s Day weekend. An argument began over who would pay for a gallon of gas. He, reluctant because he paid for the movie, and she, reluctant because she was the girl. The young girl was on the brink of turning 18 years old when she suffered her first blows to the face from the hands of the guy she loved.
“I didn’t want to pay for gas because I’m a girl,” said the now college junior.
“That was only the beginning of our problems.”
Jane, whose name has been changed, is just one of the many adolescents who suffer domestic abuse while dating. A growing epidemic that affects 1 in every 3 adolescents in the United States, according to loveisrespect.org, a non-profit website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, and Liz Claiborne Inc.
“Sometimes I’ll get pissed off because of the way she would act,” said Parker, an artist living in Lower East Side of New York.
“I just didn’t understand why she could not listen.”
Like Jane, Parker is one half of the duo in an abusive relationship. Unlike Jane, he is the abuser. Parker was romantically involved with his high school sweetheart who dreamed of going away to college. He said they were inseparable and seemed to be the one couple out of their friends that would last the longest. They were also the one couple that argued the most.
“Our first fight was about her going to college and leaving New York,” He said, as he leaned against the bar, one hand stirring his drink while the other rested in his pocket.
Senior year of high school they fought more about college. He wanted to attend a school in the city and she was looking at schools on the west coast. They fought about Facebook friends, missed calls, and text messages until one night the water boiled over the pot.
“She didn’t like a particular chick commenting on my Facebook picture and we argued about it and before you know it we were in each others faces and then she pushed me.”
He takes a sip of his drink, his eyes shut and he lowers his glass. His eyes remain closed as he reminisces about that night.
“I lost control and gripped her up by the hair and pushed her into the floor.”
They didn’t talk for a few days. He brought her roses one day after class and apologized. Soon they returned to normal. For a little bit of time until another argument erupted into a physical altercation, leading into another. For two years they fought, made up, and fought again until finally she ended it.
“Looking back on it I was hurt, pissed off, but now I’m relieved for that cycle to be over.”
A cycle that is very real and very dangerous. Coined the Cycle of Abuse in the 1970’s, by psychologist Leonore Walker, it describes the characteristics of abusive relationships. Stage one of the cycle is the tension building stage where communications is broken down and tempers flare. Stage two is when the incident occurs, whether verbal or physical. The third stage is the reconciliation stage where the abuser pleads for forgiveness and the abused either forgives or convinces themselves the altercation wasn’t so bad. The final and forth stage is the calm stage and it is when the relationship takes on a honeymoon-like feeling where the abuse has seemed to be forgotten by both parties.
“He would always come back to me, apologizing for all the bad stuff he did, and I took him back all the time.”
Jane sat on the carpet covered floor in her room, tears fell from her eyes as she watched herself in the mirrored doors of her closet. Her hands twirling a piece of tissue in the form of a nervous tick. She wiped away her tears and sighed.
“The minute I took his sorry ass back it would be great for awhile until the devil that sat on his shoulder would tell him to act up again and then, bam, another fight, another bruise.”
Statistics show that nearly 80 percent of girls who have been physically abused in an intimate relationship continue to date their abuser. Less than 25 percent of teens discuss these abusive behaviors with their parents, according to teensagainstabuse.org, a non-profit organization run by girls who have experienced dating abuse.
For someone suffering from domestic abuse, there are resources to help you escape the abuse. According to a professional counselor at Saint Peter’s College Center for Personal Development, The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1.800.799.SAFE) is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Seek relief with a counselor on your college campus or in your high school. Counselors are willing to listen and get you the help you deserve by connecting you with resources that will help you escape domestic abuse. These resources are free and fully confidential.
What was the final straw that made you leave?
“I was tired of feeling sorry for myself and tired of feeling scared of someone who was a coward.”
If Jane could talk to another young person who feels trapped, she would say you are not alone.
“You are not trapped. There are millions of people out there who are in your shoes and who are wearing the same bruises you are. This is not your fault. You didn’t cause this. Be strong and get help because everyday that passes is another day you can’t get back.”