The Black and Blue Princess

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Once upon a time, years and years ago, an eleven year old girl was standing in a department store check-out line, quietly humming her made up “Cheese and Crackers” song. She looked around curiously, she was bored and her Mommy wouldn’t hurry up. She watched innocently as the people ahead of her paid for their purchases. There was an average looking man, a thin, wan looking young woman who couldn’t stop wringing her hands together, a two year old baby, and an old lady who had to be in her fifties. The old lady carried the squirming toddler and headed on out to the car. The young girl started to grow cold as she stared at the man as he and the young woman turned to leave, his face was drawn in fury. He grabbed the young woman’s arm violently and hissed loudly, in a clear enough tone for the young girl to hear, “Wait until we get home, you’re going to get it!”

The girl had never seen someone so angry. She didn’t know why he was so angry either. Nothing unusual had happened as far as she could tell. The young girl watched horrified as the young woman meekly followed the man out of the store, appearing to be slumped over and defeated. The young woman turned around and scanned the store for something, maybe begging someone to notice and help her. She made eye contact with the little girl, making the little girls eyes well up with tears because she didn’t know what to do, because she didn’t know what was wrong. The woman quickly turned away and scurried to catch up to the man. She didn’t look back. The young girl looked up at her Mommy, hoping that she noticed too. But she wasn’t paying a lick of attention. The girl struggled to put the incident out of her mind, in fact she’s never forgotten.

But she never recognized for what it was until a couple of years later when she bought a book about domestic abuse. The book was a work of fiction but it was based on a true story and had a 60 page guide to Domestic Abuse and how to get out of that situation, how to recognize the signs, etc. It was basically an Abuser Handbook. That’s when the girl, then a teenager, finally realized what she saw. She saw an abuser getting “rough” with his partner out in public and she realized what had happened to that woman. The odds were that the woman was dead by then. That’s how the little girl came to realize how serious of an issue that domestic abuse was and why that there should be programs in schools geared to teach teens about those situations and how to get out of them before they get hurt or die.

How do I know all of this about the little girl? That little girl was me and it still bothers me that I didn’t speak up. I’ve almost memorized that extremely helpful book. I’ve become somewhat obsessed with teen dating violence or domestic abuse in general. I fully comprehend how easily it would be to get lured in by a seemingly normal guy, who could turn on you in a heartbeat when you displeased him in some manner or he got jealous. I also fully understand how it‘s nearly impossible to escape an abuser and most women or teenagers typically die while trying to do so.

Domestic abuse is categorized as the pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends, etc. Abusive behaviors include hitting, biting, kicking, punching, slapping, stabbing, etc. Or extreme jealousy, paranoia, and controlling behaviors (like stalking). Teenagers are uniquely vulnerable in this day and age. Though dating is a normal part of growing up for many teenagers. They frequently form their first serious relationships without understanding of what is normal in a relationship versus what is dangerous or crazy. As a result, they are particularly vulnerable to becoming targets of dating abuse. Fifty-seven percent of teens know someone who has been verbally, physically, or sexually abusive in a dating relationship. Actually females ages 16 to 24 are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence than any other age group, because of their generally low self-esteem. Although the patterns and signs of teen dating violence tend to mirror those exhibited in adult abusive relationships, there are some unique issues that teens face.

Teens in this day and age generally come from broken homes, which tend to make them doubt that their situation is in fact dangerous After a fight when the abuser comes crawling back, they’ll think “Oh, well, this can’t be worse than my Dad (or Mom). At least they came back, they must love me.” They’ll accept the apology and allow the abuser back into their life, thinking that everything will be okay, and that the abuser will get help and they’ll all live happily ever after. Wrong. (Quick fun fact: Once a partner is violent, they’ll be violent again.) This skewed view of what’s acceptable and what’s not is enabling the cycle of abuse to continue and even prosper. The victim in question might wise up eventually but they might be shamed by what they’ve experience and be too afraid or embarrassed to tell people what went on. They might continue to live with it, thinking that it’s the best they’ll ever do.

But that’s just wrong and hurts me to my very core. I’ve seen some of my friends in relationships that aren’t exactly the best for them and it kills me to see them endangering themselves that way. As a kid myself, there wasn’t exactly anything I could do about it, other than continually warn them, which did drive a wedge between some of us. But honestly, I can’t apologize for it. I just wanted them so see how they were on a dangerous path. I just feel like if an adult had stepped up to the plate and helped take care of them that they could have been exposed to less. I guess another problem is dead beat parents that push their daughters off on boys that are too old but are willing to keep their kid out of their hair is another problem, but I won’t rant on that for right now.

That’s why I think that their should be classes or programs for teens to take to educate them on the dangers of dating violence, short and long term effects it can have on a victim, and how deathly it can be. 7 percent of all murders are committed by boyfriends or husbands that kill their wives/ girlfriends. If they don’t die, congrats, but they could still possibly be subjected to other harmful, major injuries like broken bones or become brain damaged from being slammed into walls. They might also become truant because they have to miss school to hide injuries and consequently drop out to avoid getting taken to court. Even if they escape they are still more likely to do poorly in school, binge drink, attempt suicide, and fight. Victims may also carry the patterns of violence into future relationships.

Teen dating violence is a serious issue. There are several websites with lists of signs of abuse, and escape plans. The Center for Disease Control has a specail seminar online for Recognizing Signs of Abuse, The Mayo Clinic has a special page on their website set aside fot it, even Liz Claiborne has her own famous website loveisnotabuse.com. But honestly, how many teenagers are going to research that for fun? Not unless their OCD about it like me. They need to be exposed at school or at the doctors office about domestic abuse. Could you imagine how that might help them in the long run? Or in the present? It may not even help them but having that knowledge may enable them to help someone else get out of that dangerous of a situation. Resources should be set aside for girls in dangerous situations like these, or boys even. But girls are more commonly the victim in dating violence. Lives could be saved and salvaged! If we just paid closer attention and taught teens about dating violence.

Every teenage girl wants to be treated like a princess. But not just because their boyfriend is feeling guilty about abusing them verbally, sexually, or physically and doesn’t want them to leave. Help them see that they don’t have to put up with injury to feel special. Help the princesses see that they don’t’ need princes who are going to hurt them, that they are special in their own right, and no boy has to obsess over them to make them feel that way.





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