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wingspan • february 19, 2010

Student at West experiences being in an abusive relationship “I can’t say that there is more assault or abuse out there, but what I can say is that victims are finding their voices,” ust an average day seemed so innocent for Alley said. “They are actually coming Amanda and her boyfriend. They were at a forward and recognizing that they friend’s house having a good time. People were need some kind of service or suplaughing and enjoying each other, but Amanda port in aiding with and dealing and her boyfriend found themselves arguing once with their physical and emotional again. reactions.” They went to another room to talk it out, but Verbal abuse can begin before she knew what was happening, the argu- with small incidents like ment heated up and her boyfriend took it too far. name-calling, but can He grabbed onto her neck, and even though it escalate to isolation, only lasted a moment, it was a moment she would threats and derogatory never forget. comments. Amanda is a student at West who asked that There are many types of abuse, such as verbal, her name be changed to protect her identity. Her physical, emotional and sexual, most of which relationship lasted a year and eight months, but Amanda experienced. the abuse started very early on. Abusers rarely stop at one She first noticed signs of abuse type of abuse. After small signs, only six months after she started abuse will simply worsen into If you even dating the abuser. serious problems. People who think you are “It started with verbal abuse. experience abusive relationships He made me feel like I was an in an abusive often find it hard to leave, even inch tall. But there was emotional after such extreme treatment. relationship, get abuse, too. He would mess with “Some people can’t choose out now. One my emotions by being a really to stay or go in the relationship; mean person and then suddenly it’s a necessity for them to stay,” time is a warning acting like the victim,” Amanda Alley said. “Sometimes the abussign. It will only said. “It made it seem like I was er is the bread-winner or the fithe bad person. It completely nancial means for the family. The get worse. disoriented me; it trapped me.” victime needs food, clothing and Angie Alley Teenagers don’t expect to be shelter.” Healing Place receptionist in an abusive relationship, but Guidance Counselor Shannon the Center for Disease Control Auten said that manipulation is and Prevention reports that one in 11 adolescents a big part of abuse. If a person is controlling, or experiences some signs of physical abuse in a re- if he or she starts to alienate the partner, it can be lationship. The Healing Place, a center for sexu- a sign of abuse. Having a jealous personality or ally abused men or women, accepts people of all even dictating another person’s social life is also a ages and saw 843 patients last year, ranging from form of abuse. as young as two to as old as 86. Healing Place re- “I really thought that I could change him. I ceptionist Angie Alley said that this is the highest thought that the only reason he did abuse me number of cases they have had, and the numbers was because he came from such a bad family,” continue to rise. Amanda said. “I always thought that it was just

J

Ashley Heywood News Writer

FAQs

Frequently asked questions about relationships How do I know if I really love someone?

“Feelings of attraction may sometimes make you feel like you’re in love with someone. When you are completely happy with someone, you can be yourself around him or her. You feel like all of your goals in life are similar, and you’re on the same page for a lot of things. You’re on the same playing field, you share similar goals and aspirations in life and you’re sharing life together. Sometimes it is best to be friends first.”

Is dating an upperclassman a good idea if I’m a freshman?

“Sometimes it is better to be closer in age. Not only have they (seniors) experienced so many things, but they’ve witnessed things with their friends and are at a different maturity level. It makes a great deal of difference. It doesn’t make a difference later on in life when you’re 20 and he or she is four years older.”

My boyfriend/girlfriend is very controlling and says things that make me feel bad about myself. How do I handle this? “First of all, there should be some red flags going off if they’re overly jealous or they use abusive language. If someone is controlling at this age, it will only get worse. Talk about it with an adult who has seen things like that happen and can help you through it. The thing to do is move on and make sure you get help yourself.” (Quotes provided by West’s guidance counselors)

him acting actually happy and I’m not just thriving on this out on the other person to live.’ That’s when I realized that I only person wasn’t in a healthy relationship.” that would let Most people who abuse their significant other him, me. I didn’t really learned their abusive actions from home. A trauthink of breaking up with matic childhood event can trigger harmful achim.” tions later on. Abusive relationships as a teenager Amanda also experi- can also be carried into adulthood. enced physical abuse. She “We rarely ever see relationships with abuse recalls that the first time her change,” Auten said. “What usually happens is boyfriend the abuse will just continue or physically escalate. Unless the couple goes signs harmed her; it through extensive counseling of only lasted for a together in order to understand second. an and try to fix whatever is causing According to the abuse, the relationship will Te e n H e a l t h • harms you physically in continue to be unhealthy.” Magazine, most A student who thinks he or any way abusers physishe is in an abusive relationship • tries to control differcally harm their should tell a trusted adult and ask ent aspects of your life, significant other for help. School guidance counsuch as how you dress, and then apoloselors are a good resource. who you hang out with gize for their acts immediately af “If you even think you are in and what you say ter seeing that they caused pain; an abusive relationship or no• frequently humiliates this was no different for Amanda. tice any signs, get out now,” Alley you or makes you feel “Every single time he hurt said. “We as women think we can me, he would act like it was the unworthy (for example, change him. We say ‘Oh, if he worse thing ever and he said loves me, he’ll change, he’ll do if a partner puts you he would never do it again. The what I ask, he only hurt me once.’ down, but tells you that physical abuse started with One time is a warning sign. It will he or she loves you) small things and just got worse,” only get worse if he’s demand• threatens to harm you, Amanda said. “The worst that it ing or controlling. Sometimes we or to him/herself, if you ever got was when he punched have clients that didn’t know that leave the relationship me in the face one day. He busted what was being done to them • twists the truth to my lip open and that freaked him was a type of abuse.” make you feel you are to out because he made me bleed. The best decision for people He felt bad about it and started blame who find themselves in an abuhitting himself, which of course sive relationship is to ultimately • demands to know played with my emotions again end it. Counselors have found where you are at all because I was causing him to do that if a relationship has been gotimes it, which made me the bad guy ing on for an extended period of • constantly becomes again.” time, then students find it hard to jealous or angry when Amanda finally realized that get help. you want to spend time the relationship should end. “You should tell an adult with your friends “Once, I got grounded for you trust to make sure that if two months. I realized what it felt you make the decision to leave, (www.kidshealth.org) like to not be around him every someone knows what is going day. A big thing that makes you on,” Auten said. “Sometimes you dependent on someone is when you’re with him can’t get out of an abusive relationship just by or her way too much,” Amanda said. “I would skip walking away. It’s not always that easy. It depends school to go see him. I was able to think, ‘Oh, I’m on how severe the abuse is.”

abusive

relationship

Have you ever had any embarrassing date moments together? “The first time I met her, we were in Mr. (Derek) Dennis’s class in eighth grade. I was giving a rubber band back to her, and I flipped it across the room to her. It ended up hitting her in the eye. Her eye started to get really red. We stayed out of lunch the whole time to make sure she was OK. I got kind of nervous when her mother showed up because I was almost sure I was going to get in trouble. I was afraid I would have to pay the doctor bills. We started talking more, and we eventually starting dating, so it wasn’t all that bad. ” Cody Kuykendall senior

“On our first date, we went to the fair. It looked like it was going to rain, but we decided to go anyway. As soon as we got there, it poured. The rain came down, my make-up smeared and my mascara was everywhere. We went under a tent, and the tent was caving in because of all the water so it was pouring on our heads. We went inside of one of the funhouses until it stopped raining. It was really hot in there because everyone else was in there, too. We were stinky and we smelled like rain; it was really gross.” Rachel Williams senior

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