Abuse can happen to anyone of any age.
While most individuals hear of domestic abuse stories involving adults, a growing trend involving teenagers is also emerging.
These accounts involving teens happens in every community and every state, but an increasing concern is focusing on dating and the abuse afflicted by the other partner.
Former high school student Brooke Mori, now 20, knows first-hand how an abusive, controlling now ex-boyfriend made her life unbearable to the point she became depressed and wanted to die. Mori, who allowed her name to be used, spoke at a Domestic Intervention Awareness lunch on Saturday to tell how her life was a living hell when she attended Churchill County High School.
A popular student
“He was a football star, he was a baseball star, he could do no wrong,” Mori said, beginning her account. “Others would call us a cute couple.”
Soft spoken and deliberate with her delivery, Mori said her boyfriend would always find something wrong with her friends, but to appease him, she pushed away her friends.
“Then I started pushing away my family. I would stay in my room,” she recounted, adding that she was “totally 100 percent committed to him.”
National statistics bear out Mori’s plight. About 25 percent of all high school girls are victims of either physical or sexual abuse. One of the effects of teenage abuse is suicide, and 50 percent of teenagers have contemplated suicide by the age of 18. The abuse takes on many forms — emotional, physical, sexual and/or verbal.
Since she was a young girl, Mori had aspirations of attending The Julliard School in New York City to study dance. She practiced her dancing 20 hours a week, but because her boyfriend didn’t respect her opinions or thoughts, Mori gave up ballet, a decision she now regrets deeply.
Today, though, Mori shows strong resentment for him dashing her dreams to be a ballerina.
If it weren’t for him,” I’d be in Julliard,” she added.
Mori knew she had to leave her boyfriend, but doing so would take nerve. At the time, she couldn’t.
“It was me who had to say no. They (parents) would see bruises on my chest, and they saw me depressed, not happy. I was starting to develop an eating disorder … I couldn’t control anything in my life,” she recollected. “He controlled everything, my texts, my family. It got so bad I moved out of my house.”
The audience assembled at the Eagles Hall leaned forward, riveted by Mori’s testimony.
Mori’s life was becoming more unbearable, day by day. She said her grades were dropping and she was losing friends.
“Everyone looked at me like I was someone else,” she said. “ I wasn’t Brooke.”
An inescapable life
Mori was afraid her boyfriend would snare her into a life of pregnancy she couldn’t escape. Over time, she said he hit and yelled at her, but she became numb to his abuse. Mori said she couldn’t force herself talk to others. Her parents stepped in again by having a restraining order placed on him, but Mori broke the restraining order by talking to her boyfriend, believing his words that her parents were wronged by him. She was placed on probation for violating the restraining order, not him. The world as Brooke Mori knew literally hit rock bottom.
“I ended up getting locked up and going to rehab. I was overdosing and didn’t see an end to it,” Mori said.” I went from a gorgeous ballerina … had so much going for me, and I am in rehab, but it saved my life.”
Mori said she couldn’t thank her parents enough for their support, yet after leaving rehab, the former dancer returned to see her boyfriend.
“I needed the chance to say no to him,” she said.
The abuse, though, resumed. Mori said she went to her boyfriend’s house, but before she could muster the nerve to break away from him, he began beating her again. Then the beating, she said, turned to sexual abuse. Mori had to escape.
“He went to the bathroom, and I knew I had to get away. I tried … I put on my coat, went to the door, but he heard me … my coat caught in the door. I didn’t make it to the door,” she said, her voice becoming more emotional with each word. “Then he grabbed me, and I knew I was fighting for my life.”
Silly thoughts danced through Mori’s mind. She wondered if she would live. Mori said she told herself she was so young to be in this type of situation. She wondered if she would see her brother graduate from high school. He still controlled her, but Mori still couldn’t say no.
Months went by, and Mori felt she had the nerve to break away from him during the Christmas season. Something finally clicked, and Mori said she returned the ring back to her abusive boyfriend.
“I finally did tell him no,” she stressed. “Honestly, I can’t tell you how amazing it felt.”
Mori’s troubles didn’t disappear with her finally standing up to him. At high school, the ex-boyfriend still pranced around the halls as the school jock, and others, especially teachers, found it difficult to believe he abused and controlled Mori.
“He was able to put his power over adults, and they believed him,” she continued.
When Mori graduated from high school, her circle of friends grew smaller, yet she accepted that. The effects of the bad relationship from high school, though, still haunt her today with flashbacks of the bad times racing through her mind.
“I still can’t form a relationship,” Mori said, who acknowledges she needs to concentrate on herself. She calls herself, pretty, content and fairly happy, but much work on her confidence needs to be accomplished.
During the past two years, Mori has become more confident.
“I refuse to be a victim,” she declared, “and I hope anybody, any teenagers going through this now … I hope I can comfort them with my story.”
Mori, however, said she has six words of advice for high school students who find themselves in an abusive, controlling relationship: “It is OK to say no.”