“I would never let anyone put their hands on me like that!”
The young lady sat on the front row of her school gym, her arms crossed over her chest. The look on her face told me she meant what she said. She, along with a hundred or so of her classmates, had just listened to an hour-long condensed telling of my story about being a teen mom and survivor of domestic violence.
“I hope not,” I said. “I hope you never meet someone who wants to hurt you, but if you do, I hope you can see it and walk away. I pray for that.”
And yet, what I know is, I also said I’d never…
Teenagers are often easy targets for those looking for someone to control. If they come from a background of abuse, that increases their chances of finding themselves in a whole new abusive situation. Often, they are looking for someone to take care of them — like I was — or someone who will tell them what they want and need to hear, even if they later learn it was all part of the grooming stage.
I was 13 when I met my ex-husband. I believed everything he said. Maybe he believed everything he said too (he came from his own cycle of abuse). I knew he meant it when he said he’d take care of me. I was flattered when he threw away my too-short skirts and when he threatened to hurt anyone who looked at me. I giggled when he said the words that later became a threat: “You are mine.”
All I wanted was for him to love me. I wanted to get away from the abuse at home. I craved his attention, his words, his everything. I was already a broken girl. I thought he could fix me.
[Tweet “I was already a broken girl. I thought he could fix me. #teendatingviolence”]
I wanted more than anything just to be happy.
I had no idea how much worse my life would get. As a young teen, I didn’t know what to look for. But now I do.
And now so do you.
Watch over the young women in your lives. Watch over the young men. Broken teenagers are prime targets. Protect them, love them, don’t let them get hurt. If you see it, step in.
NATIONAL TEEN DATING VIOLENCE PREVENTION INITIATIVE
Teen dating violence runs across race, gender, and socioeconomic lines. Both males and females are victims, but boys and girls are abusive in different ways:
- Girls are more likely to yell, threaten to hurt themselves, pinch, slap, scratch, or kick;
- Boys injure girls more severely and frequently;
- Some teen victims experience violence occasionally;
- Others are abused more often…sometimes daily.