Sunday, January 04, 2009

That Ol' Black Magic Called Power & Control: The Beat Goes On . . . . ..

And on . . ..
"She was 17 when she met her boyfriend, and 20 when she died at his hands. In between, Heather Norris tried several times to leave the relationship, which was fraught with control and abuse, before she was killed — stabbed, dismembered and discarded in trash bags.

Her death in 2007 in Indianapolis is one of several stemming from abuse in teenage dating relationships that have spurred states and communities to search for new ways to impress on adolescents — and their parents and teachers — the warning signs of dangerous dating behavior and what actions are not acceptable or healthy . . .

Although there are no definitive national studies on the prevalence of abuse in adolescent relationships . . . [e]xperts say the abuse appears to be increasing as more harassment, name-calling and ridicule takes place among teenagers on the Internet and by cellphone.

“We are identifying teen dating abuse and violence more than ever,” said Dr. Elizabeth Miller, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis . .. .

“Few adolescents understand what a healthy relationship looks like,” Dr. Miller said.. Adolescents often mistake . . . excessive attention . . . as an expression of love, she said.

Kayla Brown, 18, was among them. At first, her high school boyfriend made a great impression last year when he “called my mother to introduce himself,” said Ms. Brown, a senior at an Indianapolis charter school.

Then he began “calling me every hour to see where I was and what I was doing,” she said. Finally, during an argument he slammed a chair into a cafeteria table and raised his fist.

She confided in her mother, who has suffered domestic violence, and followed her advice to break off the relationship. But it was not easy. For months, she had friends accompany her in the school hallways, even to the bathroom, to make sure she was not alone with him. . .

Deborah Norris, Heather Norris’s mother, said her daughter’s relationship with Joshua Bean also began innocuously but rapidly became threatening.

“When he would call or text her, she had to answer right away or there was trouble,” Ms. Norris said. “She became quiet and withdrawn around him, and that wasn’t like her.”

“She hadn’t seen him in four months,” she added, “and was getting ready to go to court because she had filed battery charges against him.”

Mr. Bean was convicted in Heather’s killing last September.

Ms. Norris, an accident investigator for the police, said, “What happened to Heather really opened the eyes of police, the people I work with, who used to look at domestic violence differently,” seeing it as a family matter.

What happened to Heather before she was killed is common in abusive relationships, said Stephanie Berry, the manager of community health at Clarian Health, a network of Indiana hospitals, which is leading the program being financed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Many teenagers, Ms. Berry said, “see the jealousy and protectiveness as ‘Oh, he loves me so much.’ Girls make excuses for it and don’t realize it’s not about love, but it’s about controlling you as [their] possession.”

And it's not only girls who are on the receiving end.

From Heather's Voice:

Controlling behavior includes:

* Frequently checking up on you to know where you are or who you're with
* Deciding what you wear or who you hang out with
* Limiting your normal activities so you can be with him/her more often

From Love Is Respect:

Are You Being Abused?

Does your boyfriend/girlfriend:

* Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
* Act jealous or possessive?
* Put you down or criticize you?
* Try to control where you go, what you wear or what you do?
* Text or IM you excessively?
* Blame you for the hurtful things they say and do?
* Threaten to kill or hurt you or themselves if you leave them?
* Try to stop you from seeing or talking to friends and family?
* Try to force you to have sex before you're ready?
* Do they hit, slap, push or kick you?

If you said yes to even one, you may be in an abusive relationship. Call us if you need to talk. We're here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. All calls and chats are anonymous and confidential. Contact us by phone at 1-866-331-9474 (1-866-331-8453 TTY) or chat online from 4pm - 2am CST.

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