‘Every two minutes there was a text’: A teen dating violence survivor shares her story

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Ellen was desperate to find male attention after the death of her father and she found it in the form of her first boyfriend.

"He was kind of jealous in the beginning, and I thought it was super cute that he was jealous. I was like, 'Oh you're interested in me," she said.

Then, the relationship took a turn.

"If someone wanted you to do something, you would ask him for permission," Ellen said. "You did what he wanted you to do to make him okay."

Ellen's new suitor was particularly controlling when it came to her phone and social media usage.

"Every two minutes there was a text. That's where the possessiveness was, my phone."

Eventually, the relationship devolved into threats, intimidation and violence. Ellen, who is now in her early twenties, said her high school boyfriend would constantly compare her to other girls.

"He would see other girls at the park and be like, 'Why can't you be like her? Why can't you be skinny like her?," she said.

It's a situation that's all too common, according to Joe Gallant, a prevention specialist with Project SAFE at Rose Brooks Center.

"On the national average, one in three 16-24 year olds are experiencing it at a much higher rate," he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 10 high school students has experienced intimate partner violence in the past year. It's a problem that is difficult to address, according to Gallant.

"About 80% of parents either don't see dating violence as an issue or are unable to recognize it as an issue."

He says the sometimes secretive nature of teenagers makes coming forward all the more difficult.

"A lot of kids probably don't feel comfortable coming to their parents and talking to them about it," he said.

Signs of teen dating violence include extreme jealousy, put downs, constant mood swings, possessiveness, pressure to engage in sexual activities and isolation from family and friends.

You can find a list of resources in your area below.

National Hotline

MISSOURI

Midtown:

Mattie Rhodes Center

Metropolitan Organization to Combat Sexual Assault (MOCSA has services in Kansas and Missouri for the KC area)

Westport:

Kansas City Anti-Violence Project

South Kansas City:

Rose Brooks

Eastern Jackson County:

Hope House

Kansas City North:

Synergy Services

Northeast Kansas City:

Newhouse

Cass County:

Hope Haven

Sedalia:

Citizens Against Spousal Abuse

Maryville:

Children and Family Center of Northwest Missouri

Cameron:

Green Hills Women’s Shelter

Lexington:

Lexington House of Hope

St Joseph:

St. Joseph YWCA 

Columbia:

True North of Columbia

Atchison Couunty:

CARE of Atchison County

KANSAS

Overland Park:

Safehome

Kansas City, Kansas:

Friends of Yates

Lawrence:

The Sexual Trauma and Abuse Center

Willow Domestic Violence Center