November 6, 2023
(NEW MILFORD, NJ) – A survivor of teen domestic violence recounted the abuse she suffered from her boyfriends and urged New Jersey high school students yesterday to speak up if they or anyone else was suffering abuse.
Danielle, who declined to give her last name, spoke to more than 200 high school students and faculty at New Milford’s Fifth Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Symposium. The auditorium was silent as Danielle, now 29, described the assault, manipulation and humiliated she experienced as a teen.
Her voice quivered as she spoke of her first boyfriend, Nick. “Nick always got so comfortable punching me because it was a joke. Eventually, the joke wasn’t a joke. No matter what I did, it was always my fault.” Nick used Twitter to cyber bully Danielle and anyone who tried to defend her. Danielle’s second boyfriend, Joe, also used social media to harass and stalk her.
While she found healing through therapy, like 67% of New Jersey teen victims, Danielle did not report the incidents. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that one in three adolescents have experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse from a dating partner, but many teens are too scared to speak up or are not aware of the resources available to them.
For help, teens can turn to the Violence Intervention Center of Bergen Community College, which offers a hotline with sexual violence advocate. “If they need a place to stay, if they just need a place to talk, if they just need a place to vent, that’s what we’re here for,” said Leonard Clark from the Violence Intervention Center of Bergen Community College.
Danielle told the students, “Please talk to your friends, to your parents, to your teachers, to your guidance counselors. They’re all here to help you. Remember, this is my story, and it doesn’t have to be yours.”