A Warning to Teenagers Before They Start Dating

By Jann Hoffman

"Start Strong Idaho, a program of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, works with experts in health and youth programming. It also enlists students who have overcome abusive relationships — an umbrella term for emotional, physical or sexual violence.

They include Laura Hampikian and Sara Hope Leonard. Each girl longed to escape family turmoil by creating what she imagined would be a stable romance.

Ms. Hampikian is now 20 and a confident college sophomore. But in the eighth grade she turned her life over to the bottomless neediness of her boyfriend, who threatened suicide if she left him, began cutting himself, and told her about his family’s violence. She did not realize she was slipping into a fog, detaching from her friends. Pleading with him on the phone nightly until 3 a.m., she believed it was her responsibility to keep him alive.

Ms. Leonard, 17, is a vibrant high school senior. But a few years ago, when her family was living in California, she did anything to please her bristling, possessive, ninth-grade boyfriend.

When her family moved to Boise, Ms. Leonard was so desperate to hold onto her boyfriend that she had them split a set of handcuffs and each wear half, symbolizing their attachment. She obeyed his rules: no giving out her number to boys; no group dates. She completely isolated herself in her new city.
It took both girls a year to extricate themselves from the relationships. When Ms. Leonard graduates from college, she plans to counsel sex-trafficking victims. Ms. Hampikian has been speaking out about healthy teenage relationships as a contestant in the Miss Idaho pageant."

You can read the full post here.

No comments:

Post a Comment