What causes dating violence
A partygoer later recounted the incident to police in a statement: “He kicked her as hard as he could with his right leg/foot. He [witness] said she did this for close to three hours.” When Sarah regained consciousness, Joe was standing nearby, still drinking.
Getting to her feet, she made her way to a bathroom, locked herself in and called a male crew team member.
Something she said—to this day she doesn’t know what—enraged him.
“He snapped,” Sarah says, still wincing at the memory.
“I just wanted to get away.” Just four months earlier, Sarah thought she’d found the perfect boyfriend, ready with corsages, compliments and movie dates.
Quickly, though, sweet talk gave way to insults and demands and, finally, physical abuse. 12, 2005, kicking incident, Sarah, a willowy strawberry blonde with a spray of freckles across her cheeks, stood in line at the family division of the Santa Clara County, Calif., court clerk’s office, waiting to pick up a copy of a restraining order.
“I never would have thought,” Sarah says now, “something like this would happen to me.” Once a hidden problem, teen dating violence is getting some serious attention.
A 2005 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that of 6,888 high school girls surveyed nationally, 1 in 11 had been hit, slapped or punched by an intimate partner.
I flew across the room, hit my head on the wall and was knocked unconscious.” No one called an ambulance. Her legs were moving up and down and her chest was shaking.
Getting hurt was the furthest thing from Sarah’s mind when she met Joe at a back-to-school dance in September 2004, the start of her sophomore year. “I was crazy about him and about being in a new fun relationship,” she says. Joe, knowing Sarah left before dawn for crew practice—she eventually became team captain—began sending her text messages at 4 a.m.
“They would say things like, ‘I know you are at practice right now, but I just wanted to be the first one to say hi,'” Sarah says.
“As a parent you don’t know what to do,” says Kate, a workspace designer.
“Here was this child who had always been bright; suddenly she doesn’t have the self-esteem to care about herself, her grades or her future.” She tried talking to Sarah, who angrily rejected her suggestion that Joe was a bad influence; she also sent Sarah to a therapist, who suggested Kate and Mark try to understand why they disapproved of their daughter’s choices.
“It affects [girls’] academic lives, lowers their standards for relationships and puts them at great risk for unintended pregnancy and STDs.” No one knows what causes such behavior—theories range from violence in the home to alcohol and drug abuse; others suggest violence in movies and the Internet may play a role.