Kristen was in ninth grade when the guy she had been dating for a few months slapped her. She had arrived a few minutes late to meet him between classes.
“What did I do to deserve that?” Kristen asked. She had never experienced anything like that.
Her boyfriend apologized and promised he would never do it again. He told Kristen that his father had hit his mother. He didn’t want to be like his dad. Kristen believed him.
That was the beginning of four years of physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse.
Kristen’s family had no idea what was happening. She hid her bruises and told everyone things were great.
Why did she stay?
“I was afraid of what he would do when I left,” Kristen says. “He would threaten me.” Kristen feared for herself and for her family.
One day Kristen hadn’t come home and wasn’t answering her telephone. Her father, Vito, went to her boyfriend’s house. “I found her in the back hallway crumbled up in a fetal position crying, shaking,” Vito says.
Vito took his daughter home. Finally Kristen opened up and admitted what was happening. Her parents and sister showed support by going to see a therapist with her.
“It was the best thing I every did,” Kristen says. “I got to express everything and tell stories I hid for so long.”
It took time, but Kristen regained her self-respect and confidence. Now she’s in a healthy relationship.
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