Love Struck by Violence

Kelly Butterfield – Staff Writer

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The prevalence of teen dating violence over the years has caused alarm for both police and high schools. A Teen Dating 101 club is held every Monday in the library to help support the victims of abusive relationships and prevent future dating violence. A survey conducted at Countryside High School showed that students define an abusive relationship as physically and or verbally harming someone.

A former domestic violence detective says it is “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping or false imprisonment that occurs within a relationship and the relationship has been ongoing for the past 6 months.”

According to the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in every three teenagers has been through a violent relationship due to a craving for power and control.

Men who are abusers in relationships believe that they have the right to control their female partners; respect may be lost if they are attentive and supportive towards their girlfriends said the ACADV. Women, on the other hand, have unrealistic expectations and make unrealistic demands of men mostly because of fictional movies and books.

Although, “women as the abuser is not frequently heard of, society believes the idea that men could be victims of domestic abuse and violence is so unthinkable to most people that many men will not even attempt to report the situation,” said an Oregon state handout covering domestic violence. A former detective from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said he believes this happens because “People do not know what a healthy relationship looks like – they learned it from their parents.  Or the person has low self-esteem and is desperate for affection and attention.”

Ms. McGlamery, an English teacher at Countryside, said to “Get out [of the relationship] now” as did 100% of 25 surveyed students.

Local police and teachers are always open to “breaking the cycle” of abusive relationships and over time, abuse usually gets worse. According to the Florida State Statute section 741.28, the abuser in a relationship would receive a minimum of 5 days in jail. On average, the Florida Domestic Violence hot line responds to 132,629 calls per year. 12,468 of those calls came from people under 24.

68% of reported abuse victims knew their attacker either as a boyfriend, friend, or a fellow peer.

A current St. Petersburg College student, Melissa Dohme, was attacked and stabbed by  Robert Lee Burton Jr., her ex-boyfriend, 18 times in late January. She had broken up with him in October of last year because he had abused her and then was arrested for domestic battery. “He had been abusive the months before that, but threatened to kill me and himself if I was to get out or tell anyone. I was always scared he would do something like he did to me. I didn’t see him [from October through January] until he came and found me on [January 24th]  and that’s when he attacked and stabbed me” said Melissa.

She was saved by a young couple who fought off Burton Jr. and called for help. Melissa was flown to the hospital where she received 12 pints of blood. Melissa had 2 intensive surgeries that first day and the next. “I spent 6 days in [the Intensive Care Unit], another 5 in a trauma room and a week in rehab. I also suffered a stroke. I have a broken nose, skull and upper mandible. I lost a tooth and of course stabs all over. I flat lined and died 4 different times. It’s a miracle I’m still here but I owe it to the two that called for me, the paramedics and trauma doctors.” Recalled Melissa. Her family and friends started a Support Melissa page on Facebook where updates about her status are made. There is a petition link on there as well to stop the spread of domestic violence. 14,664 more signatures are needed to reach their goal of 20,000 people who want to stop domestic violence. The state attorneys are trying to put him away for life because he committed such a heinous crime.

Dating Violence lowers test scores according to Mark L. Hoekstra from the University of Pittsburgh. “We have found that students in violent relationships lowers their reading and math test scores and increases misbehavior in the classroom.” Some other common warning signs of an abuse victim are lack of concentration, jumpiness, depression, and many others.

The leading cause of an abusive partner has been domestic violence in their family life. “Abusive parents are the leading cause of adolescence violence,” said Hoekstra. “Most forms of abuse are not a crime,” said the Deputy.  “For example verbal abuse and or mental abuse. [it is]  very detrimental to the person but it is not a crime.  The only crime that a person could be charged with is Battery but that only covers a very small portion of abuse.”

Looking for the given signs early in a relationship is key to protecting one’s self and others. “You can break the cycle [of abuse],” said Ms. McGlamery. Friends, teachers, and law enforcement officers are there to help with problems like this. First call 911,  if that is not an option due to potential harm then the 24-hour abuse hot line is always open at 1-800-962-2873. Ms. McGlamery and Ms. Tait’s Teen Dating 101 club is willing to help as well. Help is the best option for everyone. Talk to someone about it as soon as possible because time is the biggest factor. Be strong and stand up for the unspoken.

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