He didn't hit her. He didn't threaten her. But, during their relationship, he texted her endlessly, told her who to talk to (and not to talk to) and generally tried to control her life.
From the show:
As authorities learned more about how Lauren Astley's body ended up in the marsh, they started to believe she was a victim of a disturbing trend: breakup violence. It is a crime that has no zip code. It's urban, suburban, and rural. A relationship ends and what happens is an emotional surge of uncontrollable anger. It can be verbal or physical and sometimes, as in the case of Lauren Astley, it can end in death.
The statistics are startling. According to the American Psychological Association, one in three teens and young adults is the victim of physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse by a dating partner.
"Of teenagers who are in abusive relationships 3 percent will tell an authority figure, 6 percent will tell a family member, but 75 percent will tell a friend," Leone explained. "That's why we focus on kids."
Hand-in-hand with verbal abuse is this story of teens being coerced into sex from NPR.
A multiple-choice online survey conducted in 2010 and 2011 asked 1,058 teenagers and young adults, ages 14 to 21, whether they'd ever "kissed, touched, or done anything sexual with another person when that person did not want you to?"
- Nine percent said yes.
- Eight percent had kissed or touched someone when they knew the other person did not want to. Three percent got someone to give in to unwilling sex.
- Three percent attempted to rape the person, and
- 2 percent completed a rape. (The numbers don't add up because some perpetrators admitted to more than one behavior.)
Three-quarters of the victims were in a romantic relationship with the perpetrator. The coercion used was almost always psychological, not physical.
When asked who was to blame, half of the perpetrators said the victim was completely responsible; one-third said it was their own fault. "If half of the perpetrators felt the victim was responsible for this, we need to do something," Ybarra, who is president and research director of the Center for Innovative Public Health in San Clemente, Calif.
But Ybarra tells Shots these numbers show that parents need to act and well before their children are 16.
Parents, I remember when there was a murder about 10 years ago of a Roosevelt student (off-site). There were three boys who all had "J" names and called themselves the J-Crew. But one boy had a girlfriend who had sex with one of the other boys (she said it was rape but the police could not find the evidence or witness statements to corroborate her story so there was no arrest). Her boyfriend brushed it off saying, "Girls come and go but bros' are forever."
But, all the while he was plotting to kill his friend and convinced the third friend to participate. The two boys killed him and hid his body and played innocent to the murder victim's mother. Of course, it all came out and both those boys - now young men - are in jail for 25+ years.
I tell you this story because when I read it (and then researched it), I was dumbfounded that all the parents seem to think that everything was fine even as one boy's girlfriend had said she had been raped by another boy. How the parents convinced themselves that it wasn't serious, the boys weren't taking it seriously and did not think back to a time when they were teens and remember how high emotions ran?
Every time you feel tempted to say, "It's just puppy love" or "It's just teenaged angst" , just remember your first love and the intensity of those feelings and emotions. Watch you teens and talk to your teens. Here's a link to one group "Love is Respect" and another one, "Break the Cycle."
Tell your teen - boy or girl - that being controlled, followed, arm-grabbing, text-reading, etc, are NOT signs of love. Being mistreated - verbally or physically - does not mean love.
I think the great Lesley Gore sings it best in "You Don't Own Me"- let your teens hear this song. One, because it's a great classic song and two, they will laugh at the staging, hairstyle and orchestration long enough to hear the words. I always think someone should do an updated version of the song.
"... the loss, the breakup, it's tweeted ... it's texted about. It's Facebook-ed," Leone said. "Everybody's electronically communicating about it. And what it tends to do is exacerbate the entirety of the situation.