Shh…secrets hidden behind the tears

Teen dating violence


Tears stream down her face as she clutches her books. The hallway is clearing as students scatter off to class. Without warning, he slams her against the lockers. Her books fall to the ground and two students step over them, avoiding eye contact with either person. Looking back apprehensively, they watch him grab her arm and pull her into the stairwell.
While one student would later report this to the office, the other simply thought, “I wonder what she did?”
Teen dating violence is defined as physical, sexual, or psychological/ emotional abuse. One out of ten high school students report being hit, slapped or physically abused in some way by their boyfriend or girlfriend.
“I see it every year at least once in our halls,” security specialist Henry Piechowski said. “It’s scary how women go through it over and over again and sometimes do nothing about it.”
Anyone can be in an abusive relationship, but it is more common for a female to be on the receiving end of the abuse.
“It’s disturbing that abuse occurs in teenage relationships; I think it is a male problem,” principal Thomas Lietz said. “I have to raise my son to be better than that.”
All too often, when someone is a victim of abuse, they hide the bruises and pretend everything is fine. This tendency to stay with the abuser is known as the cyle of abuse. To make matters worse, the women who do step forward are often assumed to have done something to “deserve” the abuse.
“Don’t be afraid to say you’ve been a victim of teen domestic violence,” Piechowski said. “Come forward. It usually gets worse as time goes on, not better.”
For teens, approaching a parent, teacher, counselor, or any trusted adult is an option when looking to report dating violence. School counselors are available to students who choose to reach out and talk about teen dating violence, but the counseling office also connects students to Care of Southeastern Michigan for counseling services outside of school.
“Victims of abuse should stand up for themselves and do something about it,” Shelby Township police liaison officer Jim Malczewski said. “If they let it go once, it will only get worse.”
One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse. Translation: of the 595 girls walking Utica’s halls each day, 148 of them have been, or will be, abused.
“You don’t realize that this is happening to people,” senior Alissa Szandzik said. “There needs to be more done to prevent this. We need to start talking about dating violence and we need to support the people who come forward and speak out, not further victimize them.”