Here's My Story [Excerpt]
Eliza Johnson, 19, nervously twirls her streaky blond hair between her fingers as she remembers the way her boyfriend used to hit her. He'd started taking a martial arts class and world "practice" moves on Eliza. Making jokey kung fu-like noises, he'd rush toward her, doing chopping motions with his hands and jab up and down her arms until they were covered with tiny bruises. "I'd be like, 'Ahhhh, stop, stop.' " Eliza says, raising her hands as if she's warding off more blows. "But he'd keep going."
This kind of dating violence is way too common. One in three teenagers has experienced some type of abuse, including verbal and emotional abuse, in her romantic relationships. Usually girls are the victims: Their boyfriends monopolize them, drag them away from friends and family, become crazily jealous, and sometimes hit them.
The victims don't necessarily look like victims, either "She could be the most popular girl in school and have a 4.9 GPA," says Jill Murray, Ph.D. author of Destructive Relationships. After meeting Eliza, I believe it. She's beautiful and seems so confident. How could this smart college freshman let someone hurt her so badly?
Abusive guys play mind games to the point where girls think they're going crazy, Jill says.
HOW TO GET OUT
He may not have punched you, but that doesn't mean the person you love isn't abusive. Extreme jealousy, isolating you from friends, and controlling how you look are all warning signs. Dr. Jill Murray tells you what to do.
- FIRST LET YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS KNOW exactly what's going on and that you're serious about dumping your boyfriend.
- IN A PUBLIC PLACE bring an older brother, teacher, or even your father tell him it's over. Simply say: "This isn't working out for me. Please don't call me anymore." Then walk away.
- HE MAY NOT TAKE IT WELL. Expect him to spread rumors about you and call or email you constantly. Think about changing your screen name and phone and pager numbers.
- IF HE DOESN'T LEAVE YOU ALONE, and you're scared, call the National Hotline for Domestic Violence (800) 799-SAFE. Or visit www.feminist.org for a list of local support centers and hot lines. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org, and Break the Cycle, www.breakthecycle.org or 888-988-TEEN also have useful information.
If you'd like free and anonymous help from Dr. Jill Murray, visit www.drjillmurray.com to send her an email.
YM MAGAZINE, AUGUST 2003
copyright (c) 2003 YM Magazine