Dating violence on valentines day

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Sarah Van Zanten, 15, was lying on the floor, an ice pack on her aching ribs.

For a moment, she had no idea where she was; then her boyfriend’s face came into focus.

He sent me instant message after instant message.” Sarah printed and kept some of the dozens which were sent minutes apart: “i never wanted to scare u,” he wrote in one; another said, “i would never hurt you and i hope u dont honestly think I would.” A few days later Joe surprised Sarah while she was jogging, presenting another bouquet of roses. (PEOPLE’s multiple calls to Joe and his family were not returned.) Just before Valentine’s Day, 2005, Sarah met Joe at a party.

By the time she arrived with a girlfriend, she says, Joe was drunk.

According to a Harvard study of 4,163 public high school girls in 2001, nearly 1 in 5 reported physical or sexual abuse in a relationship.

“This is a major adolescent health issue,” says Jay Silverman, associate professor of society, human development and health, who directed the Harvard study.

He told me he was going to beat the s— out of me.” Terrified and sobbing, Sarah escaped into a classroom and sought help from a teacher.

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“I was seeing Sarah less and less,” recalls Jeremy Carlson, 18.

“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.

If a friend called, he’d be like, ‘Why do you want to go out with them?

'” When she did find time for pals, there was hell to pay: “My phone would ring and my friends would say, ‘Why don’t you ignore it?

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