Teen Dating Violence: Starting Early

Our final story of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, now on the cusp of Women’s History Month, details the slow onset of red flags in a relationship that started later in high school. After trust had been established, she started to notice something was wrong, but continued to make excuses for these behaviors.

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My senior year of high school, I began dating someone I was close friends with. Our relationship unfolded as I watched him score winning touchdowns, positively influence our community, and grow in how much we appreciated one another. I got sucked in and I thought it was so glamorous. After three months, the tide shifted and my relationship went from everything I wanted to dating a person I didn’t recognize. I held onto a small glimmer of hope that maybe he would change. Our small disagreements went from him being gentle and kind to hurling insults and making me feel like I wasn’t a person with valid feelings. I made excuses. Our saturday nights went from dinner and a movie to getting lied to like clockwork as he started to abuse drugs. Still, I made excuses. Our sundays went from spending time with family to turning me against everyone who didn’t approve of his behavior until I was left with no one but him. There I was, still making excuses. As time was passing, the more excuses I was making the more my self respect was deteriorating. I started to believe I deserved this. After almost a year of being together, I was controlled, lied to and belittled on a daily basis. Despite him throwing a package of deodorant at me, I constantly said “Well he never has put his hands on me… At least he didn’t do that.” That is the extent to how far my excuses went for his behavior. You do not have to be touched to be abused. I was so close to spending my whole life making excuses and holding on to the person I thought he should have been, not the abusive and manipulative guy standing in front of me. All of me felt as though I had invested so much time in this person, so I couldn’t just leave. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. I would rather kiss the wasted time goodbye than kiss a person who was wasting my time. No one deserves to feel like lesser of a person and it is never too late to walk away. I am a living example of that.

Our friend is right: it is never too late to walk away. The investment in the relationship does not justify the harm or pain experienced. There is hope for survivors and victims of teen dating violence and we are so proud to have these strong women in our corner.

Thank you all for the stories you have shared with us and for the support our community gives men and women experiencing these situations. The respect and trust we have received is unparalleled. To get involved, stay up to date with Battered and Beautiful as we release information about volunteer opportunities and fundraisers. We are thankful and appreciative of you!

If you or someone you love is experiencing TDV, please know that there are resources to help you. You can visit the National Domestic Violence hotline at www.thehotline.org for more resources.


Teen Dating Violence: Long Term Harm

Our next story comes from a friend of Battered and Beautiful that was introduced to teen dating violence at the exceptionally young age of 14. Though she was never physically harmed, the trauma of emotional abuse runs deep, especially when experienced during adolescence.

When I was 14, I was dating a boy who emotionally abused me on a regular basis. My first time having sex was with him. He begged to do it without a condom until I was pressured into saying yes for fear of him leaving me. Afterwards, he threatened to tell everyone if I didn’t continue to sexually please him whenever he wanted. Our relationship continued to be extremely toxic and he would send messages of him asking out other girls when we would get into fights. He was emotionally unstable and would consistently tell me he’d kill himself if I were to ever leave him. For three years I felt like an unlicensed psychiatric therapist even though I was still trying to figure out how to deal with my own mental health. Our last encounter when I was 17 ended with him telling me I deserved to die.

Her story reminds us of the emotional burden of unhealthy relationships and the techniques abusers use to keep victims emotionally invested in the outcome of the relationship. The patterns of digital abuse, sexual pressures, and jealousy are hallmarks of abusive situations and can be experienced by anyone, regardless of status or wealth. We are thankful she found a way out and extend our resources to those who might be currently experiencing teen dating violence.

If you or someone you love is experiencing TDV, please know that there are resources to help you. You can visit the National Domestic Violence hotline at www.thehotline.org for more resources.

Signs of a Healthy Relationship

As a part of our TDV campaign, we would like to highlight healthy behaviors teens and adults should seek in their own relationships. While unhealthy relationships might be hard to acknowledge, healthy behaviors are easier to notice and seek when dating.

Find someone who:

  1. Treats you with respect.

  2. Never puts you down.

  3. Doesn’t get angry if you spend time with your friends or family.

  4. Isn’t afraid to share their thoughts and feelings.

  5. Is proud of your accomplishments and successes.

In a healthy relationship, the couple gives each other space to see friends and family. Physical and emotional boundaries that have been set are respected and acknowledged. Disagreements are handled without excessive yelling or blame. You should feel like you’re able to talk about how you feel without being retaliated against, either physically or with verbal, emotional abuse.

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In the digital world we live in, young adults should also be aware of healthy technology behaviors. Texts shouldn’t be excessive or disruptive to every day life. Phones aren’t snooped and locations aren’t tracked. Digital boundaries should be respected as well (i.e., your partner should not pressure you to stay in contact 24/7 or send explicit photos.)

In essence, your partner should be your partner, not your parent. We encourage people of all ages to seek these healthy behaviors and relationships that make you feel respected and equal to your partner.

If you are concerned that you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1- 800- 799- 7233.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month 2019

Battered and Beautiful is focused on education and advocacy. For the next few weeks, we will be anonymously posting the stories of women who have reached out to us with their stories of teen dating violence in honor of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Our first story comes from a young woman who had her first brush with dating abuse at the age of 13.

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My first experience with teen dating violence was when I was 13. I had started “dating” this guy that was a little older than me. He was really sweet at first, always checking in on me every day. However, he very quickly became obsessive. He would call me when I got off the bus and make me stay on the phone with him until I fell asleep. He would keep tabs on me at school and made sure I wasn’t flirting with someone else. He started to call me names and verbally abuse me over the phone whenever I would pick up in addition to when we were together. It was like having a bully you called a boyfriend. This went on for several months and I kept it a secret from my family the entire time. When things finally ended, he threatened to tell everyone that I was whore. He continued to call my house phone for years after, even when he moved away. He later went on to date one of my high school friends who endured similar abuse.

Teen dating violence can affect anyone anywhere, regardless of status or wealth. Education and awareness of the cycle of abuse are necessary for prevention. We need to bring awareness about how common this problem is, how it affects the families in our communities, and what we can do to help survivors. 

If you’re a survivor of TDV and want to help us spread awareness about this issue, we would love to hear from you. To share your story with us, you can either message us directly or email us at batteredandbeautiful@gmail.com. We keep everything completely anonymous. 

If you or someone you love is experiencing TDV, please know that there are resources to help you. You can visit the National Domestic Violence hotline at www.thehotline.org for more resources.

Our Summer 2017

After a long summer of fundraising and advocacy, we wanted to give an update on the work we have done and the progress you have helped us accomplish! 

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To start off the summer, our founder, Jenny Foster, spoke to the Grapevine High School Young Feminist group about gender related issues and what we should do in our every day lives to combat these problems. The GHS Young Feminist group is an amazing young group of men and women who have given back through Battered and Beautiful frequently over the past couple months.

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After our Pluckers Fundraising Night in May, we hosted our first "Let's Talk" event at RE: defined coffee house in Grapevine. At this event, we were able to meet and talk with young activists in the local community about the issues they care about. We look forward to hosting more of these discussion events!

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Pictured here is Gavin Rubin- physics and teaching extraordinaire! Back in June, Jenny and Gavin had the opportunity to teach the kids at Gatehouse about how energy works. With the help of balloons, playing cards and candy for motivation, they were able to lead a fun lesson and encourage students to explore the world around them.

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Following another fundraiser at Kung Fu Saloon in Dallas, we hosted our first (and definitely not our last) bake sale at the Texas General Store in Grapevine. Several Grapevine High School alumni came out to volunteer and attract attention to our booth. A huge thank you to all who donated and volunteered as well as the Texas General Store for hosting us!

We have had an amazing time fundraising and volunteering in the area. Look out for more announcements over the upcoming months to get involved as we continue to advocate for battered women and their families.

You can now make a tax deductible donation online. Donate now. 

Our First Month

We are so incredibly happy with the turn out at our most recent events. I wanted to take the time to reflect on the volunteers and activists who have so graciously dedicated their time to helping battered women!

Some of our friends at Texas State University in San Marcos hosted an items/clothing drive at their dorm. They were able to donate three boxes of clothing as well as a box of toiletries, all of which have been given to local shelters! From just a group of friends hosting a small scale drive, they were able to give back to their community and ultimately make a difference. 

The turnout for the Texas State items drive! Thank you, Maddy Cikota and friends!

The turnout for the Texas State items drive! Thank you, Maddy Cikota and friends!

We also were contacted by Casen McMahan, a GHS graduate and current UNT student. He felt compelled to host his own items drive at UNT and the results were fantastic!

At our official items drive at Market Street over spring break, I was joined by several GHS Young Feminists to sit outside Market Street and talk with customers about our organization. Their eager-to-serve attitude and punctuality made the difference for our drive. We were approached by countless people who were curious about who we are and they were all met with the smiling faces of the Grapevine High School Young Feminists. 

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At our first fundraiser, we had the delight of working with Larry McCain of Wise Guys Pizzeria. Wise Guys was an incredible host to our fundraiser and we can't thank those who dined with us enough!

As always, thank you for the continued support of our organization. We look forward for the many months to come!

Best,

 

Jenny Foster

President and Founder of the Battered and Beautiful Organization

The Beginning

Hello everyone!

This is blog post number one of the Battered and Beautiful non-profit organization and I thought I would use this opportunity to explain what we are about. 

This project has been in the works for close to a year now and was really set in motion once I graduated high school. After a couple years fundraising for local women's shelters and anti-human trafficking organizations as a Grapevine High School Young Feminist, I became motivated to start my own distinct organization that continues to fundraise for programs benefitting the battered women of the DFW area, and then some. From this passion, the Battered and Beautiful Organization was created.

With this project, I hope to shed some light on the issues that are affecting the local Grapevine/ DFW metroplex areas as well as offer opportunities to get the community more involved. Whether it means simply passing out flyers for an upcoming fundraiser on Main Street or teaching a yoga class at a women's shelter, I believe everyone has some ability that they can use to help the gender-related issues of the local area.

Teen dating violence, domestic violence and human trafficking are problems that dearly affect Dallas. However, with education, empowerment and action, I think something great can be done.

If you are interested in getting in contact with me, please fill out the volunteer form or email us at batteredandbeautiful@gmail.com

Best,

Jenny Foster

Organizer/President of the Battered and Beautiful Organization