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“I never would have thought,” Sarah says now, “something like this would happen to me.” Once a hidden problem, teen dating violence is getting some serious attention.A 2005 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that of 6,888 high school girls surveyed nationally, 1 in 11 had been hit, slapped or punched by an intimate partner.Something she said—to this day she doesn’t know what—enraged him.“He snapped,” Sarah says, still wincing at the memory.Initially flattered, Sarah gradually grew uneasy with Joe’s possessiveness.“He never really straight out said he didn’t like my friends, but he made it clear I didn’t need anyone else.
“I came and asked [Joe] to leave; then I gave her a ride home.” Even then Joe followed Sarah out, begging for forgiveness, but she ignored him.
“As a parent you don’t know what to do,” says Kate, a workspace designer.
“Here was this child who had always been bright; suddenly she doesn’t have the self-esteem to care about herself, her grades or her future.” She tried talking to Sarah, who angrily rejected her suggestion that Joe was a bad influence; she also sent Sarah to a therapist, who suggested Kate and Mark try to understand why they disapproved of their daughter’s choices.
A partygoer later recounted the incident to police in a statement: “He kicked her as hard as he could with his right leg/foot. He [witness] said she did this for close to three hours.” When Sarah regained consciousness, Joe was standing nearby, still drinking.
Getting to her feet, she made her way to a bathroom, locked herself in and called a male crew team member.