Survivor Stories

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These stories were written by survivors of teen dating violence. They have agreed to share their testimonies in hopes of helping other teens who have or are experiencing abuse.

Please note: all names and identifying information has been changed.

Karen: 19 year-old female from Oahu, Hawaii

Originally I was in love with a lovely lady and had no interest in men but without my mother’s approval and being thirteen years old. She forced us to break up and threaten to ship me away to China to be “fixed”. I forced myself to like guys. It was difficult for me not to fully show who I was to everyone. I had to hide who I really was. I figured I would forever be alone.

When I thought all hope was gone, we met through a mutual friend; her name was *Erica. She was my best friend. His name was *John, a senior in high school. Originally he asked out almost ten girls before me. Then he asked me out even though we had just met; it was my sophomore year of high school. I was a gothic tomboy but it was the first time I wanted to look like a girl for someone. It was happy and exciting to watch movies together and actually being in a relationship my mother sort of approved.

Things started to turn bitter. Right from the start an argument started with my best friend. He made me choose right then and there. To stop being friends with my best friend, so he would stay with me. The other choice was to keep being friends with her and he would leave me. It was only a month into our relationship. I was foolish and never realized how important friendships are compared to relationships. I picked him. I still regret it to this day. I only had twenty friends, he disliked half of them. He only allowed me to hang out with ten of my friends, soon ten turned into six. He was very insecure about everything. For example, he needed to know where I was, who was with me and called every single time to make sure I was with that person. Worst of all, he would check my text messages and even Facebook messages. But I could never know who he was with or where he was, let alone look at his phone. I started changing myself to please him. Nothing was ever the same: my style, hair and clothes.

Soon my friends started disappearing so I just hung out with his friends. They weren't the best group either: ex drug dealer, ravers, street racers and just plain assholes that cheated on their girlfriends. Our “dates” turn into friend gatherings. His one and only best friend showed up to every “date”. I ended up paying for all the dinners over three years of our relationship, even though I barely had money myself. He had a full time job at the movie theater, but he would spend all his money on car parts.

He had an aspiring dream to become a mechanic like his father. Within the five years of us dating, he ran through seven cars, one of the cars I bought for him. It was supposed to be mine when I got my driver’s license. But he crashed it and then waited till we broke up to fix it and then sold it for double amount of money. No reimbursement to me of course. I even bailed his friend out of jail because his money was being eaten by his street cars. I would enjoy being away from him; I had no one to talk to. I would distract myself with online games. It felt like he used and abused me. Not really physically but mentally.

I would look in the mirror, I couldn't even recognize myself. I hated what I saw in the mirror. I never felt beautiful around him. It was all physical intimacy; all he could think about was sex. Wherever he could stick it, he would. Even if I didn't like it or I was sore. I didn't have a voice, it was all about him. It came to the point where I had depression. I was drawn to cutting myself and attempting to commit suicide with a butcher knife or drowning. By this time, I just graduated high school then went to beauty school.

Luckily for me, I had some support from someone on the internet. His name is *Aaron, it was strange. He made me feel safe but he was in *Florida. He didn't laugh at my problems like John did. He would stay up with me till five am just talking about everything. He made me feel beautiful in all the right ways, John could never do for me. It was never meant to cheat on John; he was my support to keep my sanity. He was transgender male, but I felt such a strong connection with him. When John found out I was talking to someone else, he freaked out and threatened to hunt Aaron down. But Aaron and I didn't do anything; we just talked about our problems. It came to the point where I no longer wanted to even hug John. It made me mad to even see his face, everything just collapsed on me. All the abuse just got to me. I wanted an escape and I wanted my friends back. My family hated how he treated me on top of that. I finally had enough courage to tell him, “We are done; I'm breaking up with you” thinking it would get better for me. Sadly, it didn't.

The night of the break up I wanted to walk home. But he dragged me on the floor of the parking lot and begged me to stay. I screamed at him no and leave me alone. So he sped off and I was sitting alone in the parking lot with bruises and cuts on my arm. My mother came to pick me up and I just wanted to be alone. The next day, I had work. He showed up at my work place screaming at me. I was so scared, I left work early and I tried to go home. Even at home I was trying to clear my mind and talk to Aaron. John would show up outside my house screaming my name. I had such fear in my eyes; I didn't want to leave the house. He was speeding around my house. I just wanted him to leave. It was so bad he showed up frequently at my house. He left me thirty calls a day, three creepy voice mails and sixty texts a day. It came to the point where he stalked me going home, his friends would call me a whore from the car and throw stuff at me. It was impossible to go to work because he was waiting for me there. The only place safe was school where I could clear my mind.

But I was wrong; no one told me how frequently he would call my school looking for me. I remember I was working on a complex perm; I was so excited I finished it. My classmates told me to turn around. I slowly did and saw John’s face near the door. I freaked out and dropped to the floor crying, the school went into a panic. The head of our department showed up and scream at him to leave. I was crawling on the floor shaking trying to escape to the office, some place safe. I was sitting in the office shaking and crying. I was scared of everything. My phone went off a hundred times that day. The police officers came; there was a female officer who spoke to me. To help myself out of this situation, I got a Temporary restraining order known as a TRO. The male officer joked he will beat my ex up.

I was left with the decision if I wanted to put a TRO on him. I called up Aaron and asked him what I should do. He said to go for it, he (John) deserves it. So I went through with it, a long process and a lot of paper work. Apparently the day they were supposed to serve him the paper work but he ran. Someone in the government system called his mom and told her about the TRO. Through all of this time I was mentally broken and scared. I couldn't look outside windows, walk alone or even function at school. I had nightmares every night of John raping me or choking me. I attempted to kill myself by drowning or cutting myself. It didn't help; I had to go through weekly therapy sessions. Just to keep my depression under control, I soon developed anorexia. I weighed almost a hundred pounds. I saw my rib cage.

I had to take extra precautions with everything. I could never be alone, especially walking home. I had a group of support at school and with the few friends I had left. My mother almost relocated me, but I wanted to stay at home. Luckily with therapy I found out about the domestic violence program (Teen Alert Program). Through the program they provided me with a teen advocate and lawyer. They helped me through all the steps, especially in court. I had a wonderful lawyer on my side, but John had a lawyer that kept rescheduling dates and lying to the judge. It lasted a year in court; each time I stressed out and cried in front of the judge. I didn't want to be there, just that small amount of hope helps you though court and stressful times. In the end we won; the advocates and lawyers are amazing. I wouldn't have won without them. Even though it was a difficult situation, wounds and scars make you stronger.

My advice for anyone in a difficult relationship, of course is to never give up. No one is forcing you to stay, don't give yourself to someone who doesn't care about you. Please ask for help when you need it, it’s hard to fight a battle on your own. Get a lawyer no matter what. Small problems are important in court; also keep a copy of any texts or events that happen. If there is an explicit picture involved have your ex say in court he will delete or remove any copies of it, if any are found they are to be deleted. In the end you are the one who is important, do what is best for you.

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Xandra: 15 year-old female from Oahu, Hawaii

Hi my name is *Xandra and this is my story.

I met this girl through my middle school year. I thought she was a fun and cool person to hang out with. As I got to know her better, we had a relationship beginning our freshman year.

I started to know when things were going wrong. She started to bully me for no reason, threaten me if I would talk to boys who were my friends and also threatened to call my mom to tell her about our relationship. She would also manipulate my mind telling me that she’ll find someone else. She didn’t care how I felt. I felt so helpless and alone and at the same time, I hurt my family and friends who were trying to help get out of this relationship.

The last straw was when she physically abused me. She pushed me towards the wall and just held me against my will, ripped my clothes/jacket pocket while I was trying to run away, slapped my face so hard that tears were dropping down my face one by one.

I coped with this relationship just by listening to what she says. I was constantly being controlled by her thinking she only has power over me. She told me to never hang out with boys because she thinks she's gonna lose me. She kept me away from my family and didn't give me time to spend the rest of the day with them.

I finally had enough and had the courage to leave this relationship with the help and support of family and friends.

At DVAC there were advocates at the court house the day I filed a TRO and they were very compassionate when I told them my story. Also, I found a great Teen advocate who checks-in on me to see how things are and make sure that I’m doing okay.

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Leilani: 19 year-old female from Oahu, Hawaii

Hi, my name is *Leilani. I'm 24 years old (but my story begins when I was 19). I graduated from a Central-Oahu high school in 2009. I attended a community college on Oahu for a year until I felt college just wasn't for me. While I was in search of figuring out where I was going with my life, it became the starting point of where my life took an unexpected turn and where my story begins.

I Intro
I'm more than happy to share my survivor story with you. I hope that my story will make you understand that you don't deserve to be emotionally, mentally and physically abused. It doesn't matter if you are young or old; you deserve to be treated with respect.

II My Life Before
Before I met the man who I thought was the love of my life and someone I could spend the rest of my life with, I was living a carefree life. All I had to worry about was myself. I had a bubbly and outgoing personality. I was a happy person. I would be out and about on a daily basis hanging out with my girlfriends. If I weren't with my friends, I would be at the beach, paddling with my canoe club. I never had a boyfriend in the 19 years of my life. However I was always a little boy crazy. All my friends had boyfriends but I was always the odd man out in my circle of friends. My daddy was the main man in my life. I've always been Daddy's Princess.

III My Life During
After high school and during my first year in college, I was somewhat a party animal. It would only be Monday and my mind was ready for the weekend to begin. I would go to the club with all my girlfriends and guy friends every Friday night. My girlfriends and I would never miss a night out at the club. We were constant club goers for a little over a year. Within that year, I met this extremely charming young man while out at the club. I was attracted to his smile and how sweet and handsome he was. I’ve never received so much attention from a man before. I enjoyed the special attention I was receiving. From that first night we met, we were boyfriend and girlfriend two days later. Since we made it official that we were boyfriend and girlfriend, we spent all of our time together. I would take the long drive over to his house just so we could see each other. We were frequent movie goers, late night snackers and partners in crime when we just wanted to do something spontaneous. I was extremely happy to have a boyfriend. I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world to have someone like him. I loved that I had a man that was so protective of me and could take care of me. There was never a dull moment when we were together. We were always smiling, laughing and just enjoying each other’s company.

A week or two after we started dating it didn’t feel like I thought it would. My relationship was completely different compared to my girlfriends who had boyfriends. Their boyfriends would shower them with love but I was showering my boyfriend with love and getting nothing in return.

Within the second week of us dating, we were in my room and I was just scrolling through my Facebook. He noticed that I had a lot of guy friends and he didn’t like that. He made me delete every single guy in my list of friends until I told him to stop. We began to argue because I didn’t want to continue deleting all of my friends who I’ve known longer than I’ve known him. We agree to disagree and just brushed it off. This is when I realized that jealousy and trust were going to be a big hurdle in our relationship.

He had a full-time job and I was in the process of obtaining a job. I was the one who was responsible for taking him to and from work. While he was at work, he would call me at least 10+ times a day because he wanted to know what I was doing at all times. If I would just so happen to miss one of his calls because I fell asleep, he would always find a way to make me feel guilty about it. A month had gone by since we started dating and he tells me that he quit his job because he feels the need to keep an eye on me. Around this time that he quit his job, his “best friend” was feeding him lies that I was cheating on him with him (the best friend) and that he has photos and videos of me cheating. I told him that I wanted to see these photos and videos, which I already knew never existed but I just wanted to see what he would say. He would find every excuse to defend himself because he knew the cheating was never really going on.

I became isolated from my friends and the things I loved to do because he wanted me all to himself. This relationship was the loneliest and darkest time of my life. He cut me off from the world I once knew. Early on in our relationship he would be a little aggressive with me by grabbing my arms or hands too tight. I remember one incident where he grabbed my arm while I was driving and twisted it the wrong way. He held my arm in that uncomfortable position for a couple seconds. After he set my arm free, I told him that I was done with the relationship. After a while he apologized and said that he wouldn't do it again. I forgave him and just brushed it off. We continued our relationship. From that first incident it just continued to escalate. One of the scariest times I've ever encountered where I thought I would lose my life was when we were driving on the freeway late at night. I was in the driver's seat. We were arguing non-stop from the time I left my house till we were on the freeway. He caught me by surprise and grabbed my hair and pulled my head down into his lap. The car was swerving all over the freeway. He let me go after I pulled over onto the side but told me to continue driving. I continued to drive and we were now driving in a residential area. We pulled over into a deserted park parking lot. I walked over to his side of the car to calm him down but he just ended up punching the side of my thigh to where I yelled for him to stop. Then I heard someone say "Hey!" and when I looked the person ran away. We got back in the car and continued driving on. I had to endure 2 hours of driving; not knowing what he would do next. There were many incidents where he laid his hands on me and apologized every time and told me he loved me. I believed every word coming from his mouth. I believed every promise he made to me when he said he wouldn't do it again. I put all my trust in him when he told me that he wouldn't hurt me like he did his Ex-Girlfriend. I met him when I was 19 and I found out I was pregnant 2 months after we started dating. He moved in with my family and I soon after. When I was 6 months pregnant with my twin girls, he had punched me in the face and the back of my head. He was continuously punching the back of my head to where I began to see black spots. He was punching the back of my head so much that I was beginning to think he wasn't ever going to stop. At that point that's when my trust for him went right out the door. His reason for doing it was because he was withdrawing from his drugs and his withdrawals were just getting the best of him. But once my parents found out he was beating me up, my dad told him that he was no longer welcome in our home.

I grew up in a Christian family my entire life and to be young not married and pregnant already made me feel very embarrassed but to walk around with a pregnant belly and black eye and bruises on the back of my neck, brought my shame to a whole other level. The stares would bring my self-esteem lower than it already was. Opinions from others were just things I had to endure because everyone has an opinion. I just had to deal with it and still deal with till this day.

After that last major beating he had done to me, I couldn’t go to my friends because it had been months since I spoke to any of them and for me to come at them with something as serious as this would be too much for anyone to handle. The only people I could turn to for help were My Parents. My Parents and Family have been and still are a big support in my life. They’ve stood by my side every step of the way. It didn’t matter if I was making a decision that they didn’t agree with, they stood by my side anyway. That’s what family does. I couldn’t have been more grateful for all the support my family had given me during the time of abuse. When it’s something as serious as that, you need all the support you can get. I could never repay them for all they have done.

I spent the last 3 months of my pregnancy in a safe house that my parents had set up for me. It was some place that my ex-boyfriend would never be able to find me. My parents also told me that I could not contact any of my friends because of the risk of him finding out where I was staying. They also cut me off from all social media and had taken away my phone. The only thing I was able to do was go to my weekly doctor appointments to check up on the twins and come straight back to the safe house and rest since these last months of my pregnancy would be crucial.

I also spent a lot of time at the Kapolei Family Courthouse in the last 3 months of my pregnancy as well. My Mom and I had been getting our TRO paperwork ready to file so we could have a set court date. Once we had our finalized TRO paperwork, one set was for myself and the other for my ex-boyfriend. It was difficult to serve him the paperwork because there was never a specific place he would always be. The day My Mom and I were going to settle our TROs in court that was the first day I became a client to the Domestic Violence Action Center. At the time, I didn’t think I would need their help because I felt that there was nothing wrong with my relationship that I had with my ex-boyfriend. I honestly thought I didn’t need anyone’s help. I felt that I wasn’t making a mistake staying with him. I felt that there was still room for change within him.

A few weeks after my 20th birthday, my twin girls were welcomed into this world. Even though I had a protection order against My Ex-Boyfriend, I still wanted him to be a part of my life as well as our daughters’ lives. We continued to be in a relationship and I found out I was pregnant with our third child a year later. Even after the physical abuse that he had done to me during my first pregnancy, I still felt hopeful that he would change and be a better man and wonderful daddy. He has been in jail most of my daughters’ lives. He would come out of jail one month and be back in jail the next. While he’s been in jail, I started to see things a little clearer. It’s made me look a little deeper and reevaluate my relationship with him. He’s currently incarcerated at a correctional center in the mainland and will be released in late 2016. I was a client with the Domestic Violence Action Center for 2 years and during the time spent with my advocate, I ranted and raved about my dysfunctional relationship. My advocate told me that she would have to close my case because I was still choosing to be in the relationship with the person who abused me and was somewhat still abusing me. Not physical abuse but a different form of abuse. The Domestic Violence Action Center stands for helping everyone and anyone who seeks to get out of relationships where there is domestic violence, like mines, but I was deciding to stay in this relationship hoping that it would get better and be the relationship I always wanted it to be. The last thing she said to me was “Leilani, one day he’s just going to push you over the edge to where you just don’t care. Nothing he says or does is going to matter.” He pushed me over the edge. He would still accuse me of cheating and going out with my girlfriends. He would believe all the things that his friends in jail would say about me when I don’t even know them and they don’t even know me. I would always have to justify myself to him to make him believe me. I was just so sick of it! He never understood that all my time goes to caring for the girls. I realized that it’s the same old story. I’m the one who takes care of our babies. I’m the one that has to be responsible. First responsible decision I’ve ever made was having the courage to say “I’m done with this relationship” and standing strong in my decision.

From the first meeting with my advocate till the last, she had taught me so much about domestic violence. I remember we were doing our monthly meeting and she had brought some domestic violence education papers. One of them had a picture of a wheel and in each piece of the wheel it had categorized traits of an abuser. I remember as we were reading through each of the traits, I began to realize that my boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend) was at least one or more of those traits in each category. At one of our other meetings as we were finishing up, she had given me homework. The homework was to write out the pros and cons of being in the relationship. I went home thinking that it was going to be a piece of cake and that I would come up with more pros than cons, only to realize that it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. I sat there looking at my list and realizing that it contained more cons than pros. I sat there even longer trying to come up with more pros and nothing came to mind. I just had to stop living in my fantasy world and come back to reality and ask myself “Is this really the man you want to spend the rest of your life with?”

We also had done a lot of safety planning. One of the many safety precautions we would always talk about were TROs. TROs were most important especially if there were children involved. Other than TROs, My Dad had taken it upon himself to make our house as safe as possible. He installed motion sensor flood lights around our house, he changed some of our house locks and also made sure that the alarm system of our house was working properly.

After my advocate had closed my case, I still had a good relationship with her. A week or two after I had ended my relationship, I reached out to her and told her that I would like to meet with her to share some new and exciting things that were happening in my life. We set a date of when we were going to meet and the day couldn’t come any faster. When I arrived to our meet up I had brought my original testimony. My testimony was the first thing I had shared with her. I let her read it and waited patiently to hear what she thought. We both got really emotional after she had read it because it was a long journey from where I started to where I am now. My life had changed completely just because of one decision that I made. It changed my life for the better.

After making the decision to leave my relationship I had to start thinking about having custody of my daughters. I had taken the step to get the custody paperwork but I was unsure on how to fill it out. I reached out to my advocate on if she could help me with my paperwork and she suggested that I go to Legal Aid. I made an appointment to come in for help and Legal Aid was tremendously helpful. I don’t think I would have been able to do all of that paperwork on my own. Soon enough the custody court hearing had arrived and I was filled with nerves and anxiety but My Advocate, Christina and her supervisor, Mandi had accompanied me in the courtroom, which made my nerves calm a little more. The court hearing had gone really well, we were all surprised at how smooth it had all went.

When I had first shared my testimony with Christina she had asked me if it would be okay for her to share my testimony with other young men and women and I told her that that would be more than fine with me. Since then, I have been given opportunities to share my story with others. I have shared my story with high school students, probation officers and college students. Not only does it make an impact on the people who hear my story but it gives me a feeling of empowerment. It gives me that feeling, that I’m giving a man or woman hope after an abusive relationship. That’s the number one reason on why it’s so important to share my story and why others who have been in an abusive relationship should share theirs. Every time I think about what has happened to me I’m not going to let the negative drag me down. It was like a blessing in disguise. It has given me the chance to make a little difference in this crazy world we live in.

Till this day, I still have a good relationship with my advocate. She’s the one I go to when I’m having a difficult time making decisions when it involves my ex-boyfriend. She’s there for me when I just need to rant about my daughters and how raising them on my own can sometimes be very stressful. I can talk to her about future relationships and how it feels so hard for me to start over. My advocate still plays a big part in my life even after I’ve ended my abusive relationship. She’s not only my advocate but she’s my confidant, my mentor, my therapist and most of all, someone who I consider my friend.

IV My Life Now
Today, I am a single mother of 3 girls. I was also awarded sole custody of my daughters as of summer 2014. I have a full time job. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week I am dedicated to taking care of my daughters. When I manage to have a part time job, I have to depend on my parents who have to come home from a long day of work to watch my daughters. I sometimes have to depend on my younger brother to watch my daughters after he comes home from a long day of high school. After I’m done with work, I have to come home and take care of my daughters and get them ready for bed so my parents can rest and be well rested for work the next morning. I don’t have time to be thinking about the next relationship I’m going to be in because I don’t plan on being in a relationship anytime soon. My priorities are completely different compared to the person I was when I had no worries and only had to take care of myself.

V My Experience
Thinking back to when I was in high school, high school really hasn’t changed much. I think every high school student wants that special someone who you can share everything with. That special someone who can be your best friend as well as your lover. But if that special someone is causing you pain (physical, emotional or mental pain or loneliness) that isn’t love. Your special someone shouldn’t be hurting you or isolating you from the world. You need to seek out a friend who you can trust and who can be the voice of reason. Just so your friend can give you their advice and thoughts about how you can resolve it before it continues to escalate. Something as serious as domestic violence shouldn’t be taken lightly. It should be brought to attention immediately before it can amount to serious injury. I say, the most special relationship you should have, should be the relationship between you and your friends. No relationship can ever overtake the power of friendship. It sounds cheesy but it’s true.

Leaving this relationship wasn’t easy. After 3 years of being in a relationship with this man, I finally realized that every “I love you” and promise made were just a bunch of meaningless words. The Domestic Violence Action Center has given me so much knowledge from learning to see the signs of an abusive relationship to learning that the abuser has to recognize that they need help. Every victim in an abusive relationship must understand that they are not responsible for the actions of the abuser. If I didn’t have the Domestic Violence Action Center to lean on during the period when I was being abused, maybe I would still be in the relationship. Maybe I would still be miserable, hanging on to that little inch of hope that he will change. Maybe I would be lying on a hospital bed because he beat me up real good. Today I am standing strong, stronger than I’ve ever been. I want you all to know that you can rise above it. Don’t lower your standards! Because you are much more valuable than that! There is a brighter future for you after an abusive relationship. It may have an impact on how you look at your future relationships but it just makes you look a little deeper. I hope my story has impacted you, in some way. Be courageous and strive for a better future.

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Jennifer: 22 year-old female, East Oahu, HI

My name is *Jennifer. I am a single 23 year old female but my story begins when I was 22 years old and began dating Chris. My family suffered a lot when I came home because of how terrified they were for me in fear that Chris might go after one of them or come to the house and get me while they were at work and I was at home. My mom especially suffered a lot because she worried the most for me. She was scared that I might go back to him and he might just kill me. But being how scared I was of Chris, I never went back again.

During April 26 through April 28, the following events occurred: I was threatened with a knife, gagged with my own shirt, gagged with a rag, kicked in the face, punched in the face, had all my hair buzzed off, hit in the face with a piece of broken brick, beat with a piece of wood, poked in the leg with a knife and a nail, and pushed to the ground which caused me to get cuts on the side of my leg. I was forced to lay in dirty water after getting pushed to the ground after Chris urinated in it and while I was lying in the water he was laughing at me. I also had my brother’s life threatened, and he told me before he would never let me go home to my family; that he would make me do all sorts of drugs in hopes that I would become retarded and no one would love me again. He also forced me into doing drugs and wanted to sell me like a prostitute. He told me he would beat me till I became crippled or paralyzed.

Due to all the events listed above, I was left with bruises on my face and on the back of my left leg, cuts from Chris poking me with a knife and nail, no hair, and a black eye. And to make it harder for me, I had cuts on my right leg that made it harder for me to walk, shower and put on clothes.

On April 28, I went to the emergency room because I had a hard time walking due to the cuts and scrapes on my leg. I had x-rays taken for my leg and my face. I also had a CAT scan performed on me. I was frightened to have to go through all of it because I had never gone through any of this before.

Since that day, I constantly am looking over my shoulder terrified that someone might be watching me. I don't go to certain places because of the memories that continue to terrify me. I also see a therapist because of an incident that occurred while I was riding on the bus home from an interview downtown. While riding on the bus coming down the Pali, I had an anxiety attack. I couldn't breathe and my chest became tight. Why? Because even though he was not there, he still haunted me every day. I could hear him and I could still feel his presence everywhere that I went. With everything that I went through, I had nightmares for weeks: nightmares about Chris coming for me; to kill me. I also had really bad anxiety and depression.

A lot of you may not know this but while going through all of this, the one person I became closer with was Chris’ mom, Aunty Samantha. On my birthday, August 1, we had contact with each other and since then, relationships with my family became even harder up to the point that my family and I don't even talk. Other relationships became hard for me to start. I was very anti-social because I didn't want to be loved again after such a near death experience relationship. I was scared the next guy I ever talked to was Chris’ friend or someone who knew about me and Chris or that the next guy who looked at me would look at me as just a victim of domestic violence. The only vibe I could feel from people from everywhere that I went was pity. It was so embarrassing for me to walk around looking like a boy with bruises and scars up and down my body. I just wanted to stay home so no one would ever see me and that no one would have to ask me "How are you?" I never knew how hard it was to answer the questions, "How are you?" or "Where have you been?" or even "How are you and Chris?" Oh the worst question for me was "What happened to your hair?" If you knew me before I ever dated Chris, I was all about my hair and how I presented myself. I had long beautiful hair and I always dressed to impress. He changed that all with just a few bruises to my body. He threw away all my personal items, clothing, and everything I ever owned. But back to the subject: I tried my hardest to stay away from people because answering questions only made it harder for me to go on with my day. I couldn't answer any question without crying because it hurt me to think that someone who said they loved me so much could do such unthinkable things. For me it's like the things he did were things you only seen in movies. Well not anymore! Those girls you see in the movies, I became one of them.

Sad to say but that also came hard for me to do, to live a normal life. I didn't know what normal was. I was used to having to watch what I said or just basically being quiet in fear that I might say something someone didn't like then get hit for it. When I would go out with my family, I was quiet, always looking over my shoulders, uncomfortable, and always reliving memories of the past, both good and bad. If you ever took me somewhere I could tell you what happened there both good and bad. The majority of what would come out of my mouth would be bad. Anything that was going good in the relationship always led to something bad happening. Unfortunately for me the bad wouldn't stop happening. For example, Chris used to take me to work in the beginning of our relationship, but he also helped me lose that same job twice. He helped me get two other jobs, one at a restaurant and one at a hardware store. He also helped me lose both. How did he do that? He helped me lose the first restaurant job twice: the first time was because I had a black eye. Really now, who wants to go to work with a black eye and explain to people why I can't work? But I called and let them know what happened. I even went there and showed them that I had a black eye. The second time I lost the job was because of drugs. The night before my second day back at work, drugs were involved. He helped me get the other restaurant job by pushing me to go to the interview even with a pair of jeans and a shirt. I eventually got the job a few weeks later, but when I did work, Chris was always there. He was either inside waiting or he would be waiting for me around Kaneohe. He would walk past just to make sure I was still at work, he would call to make sure I was at work, and he would even show up to see if I'm still at work or better he would show up to see who came to my job to talk to me. Really? I worked at a place where I had to talk to people. His thinking was people were coming to the job to flirt with me. But I eventually lost that job because there would be nights that I slept with him in schools in Kaneohe so he knew where I was at night and from then on we became homeless together and I couldn't go to work stink and dirty. He found the hardware store job for me online; told me to apply online and I did. I got the interview. He pushed me into going there and I got my second interview the next day, found out I got the job and I had orientation some days after. The day of the orientation, Chris gave me a hard time because he was worried I didn't have an orientation. He was so stuck on thinking I was going there to flirt or have sex with some guy. He eventually beat me up that day and I couldn't go to the orientation looking like a mess.

If you were to ask me if there were any other incidents that happened to me, I'd tell you, "Yes. There are a lot of other incidents that happened to me." I got slapped in the face almost every day because he felt like it, I got punched because he felt like it, I got punched because he thought I was fooling around, I was forced to do oral sex with him because he thought I was cheating, I was forced to do drugs with him or get beat up, I was burned multiple of times with cigarettes and cigars, I was forced to steal from stores, people, and steal from my own family. I was punched at least every week of the month since July or August. I was on the streets forced to ask people for money or for a cigarette so Chris wouldn't have to look bad asking them. His excuse was people feel sorrier for a homeless girl than a guy. This turned out to be true but what an embarrassing thing to do, ask people for money or cigarettes. Never in my life would I ever choose to do that. I was brought up in a family where you don't ask people for money and when they offer it to you, you don't take it. So it was embarrassing and scary for me because I never had to do that before so I didn't know what people were going to do to me. I also had all my clothes thrown away or thrown in the river. My expensive bags either ended up in the trash or like my Coach purse my mom bought for me, is probably still on top of a store in Kaneohe. Everything I ever bought was either ripped or thrown away. I've gotten my life threatened numerous of times. I almost got kicked off a bridge because Chris wanted me to die because he wanted me to tell his sister I was fooling around with her boyfriend even though I wasn’t. I got hit out of nowhere because he thought I needed to be disciplined but he did it without me knowing so I wasn't afraid of him. He would hit me before I went to sleep because he wanted me to “feel how much he hate me", I quoted that from himself. I was always punched in my back so people wouldn't see my bruises. I got punched a lot because he always had this thought in his head that I cheated on him with his sister’s boyfriend, Joshua. I got kicked and punched because I told his mom, "Chris wanted me to tell you that I fooled around on him with Joshua". But because I said it like that he got mad. He wanted me to tell her as if I really did do it, but because I didn't do it, I couldn't tell her the way he wanted me to. I also got beat up from Chris in front of his sister over five dollars and my purse that he flew into the river while we were in the back of a truck. I have also had my grandparent’s lives in danger at one point. My grandparents lived their lives in fear that Chris would break into their house and steal something, so they got a TRO on him that he violated numerous amounts of times.

On January 21, 2014, I had filed for a TRO against Chris and this was the first time that I had ever spoke to anyone about what I was going through. I spoke to an EXPO advocate about how I can get help and she gave me a brochure on the DVAC that could help me. But at the time I wasn’t interested in leaving so within a week I was gone and back with Chris. A few months later in April, I filed for a second TRO and spoke to another EXPO advocate and she submitted me for a Teen Advocate. I followed through with my TRO and got assigned an attorney named Jacque Jordan. She’s awesome! From there, I was assigned a Teen advocate, Christina McLemore. The first time that we met, I told her my story and she listened. That was the day she offered to help me in any way that she could. Today, she is still a part of my adventures. She still listens and she still helps me. I’m glad that this time I didn’t turn from help because if I did, I probably wouldn’t be here today.

All of these incidents happened between July 2013 and April 2014. Some incidents have been recorded and most not. I could go into detail about every incident but honestly, if you had to relive these memories by writing it or talking about it, would you? Honestly for me, I would never want to do that. But I can say this, with every time that I do have to, I feel how much stronger I've become. I went from having nothing at all to living something of a normal life within 8 months, but you will never know how much I struggled and continue to struggle to this day. I have scars that constantly remind me of what happened, places where I go to that constantly remind me of what happened, and at least something in my day will remind me of Chris. I don't think anyone knows how hard that is to have to go through something like that.
So here I am, Jennifer, 23 year old woman, a survivor of a domestic violence abuse relationship. I live my life everyday waking up knowing that I have a job and I still have people who care for me, who are always there for me, and people who show me that they really do love me. What's even better is that I finally realize abuse isn't love. People don't hurt the ones they love.

Thank you for your time,

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Susan: 18 year-old female, North Shore of Oahu, HI

I’m an 18 year-old female, born and raised on the north shore of Oahu. I met my ex-boyfriend when I was 12 turning 13. We went to the same high school and knew each other for years. We always hung out but split our friendship because he didn’t like my guy friend. Then we ended up seeing each other again 2 ½ years later in the summer when I was waiting on the bus to go home from work. Days passed and we got close again and started hanging out with the same group of people like the old times.

Our relationship started getting rocky after we found out I was pregnant; we were still friends but not even in a relationship. So it was 3 months after becoming friends again and that’s when I found out he got another girl pregnant but way before me and never told me. At this point, she was ready to go into labor anytime now. So I went into depression and he ended up leaving me to go back to her. He ended up messing with both of our heads, making us hate each other. He jumped back and forth between me and the other girl.

The abuse started happening when I started going to school at night including in the morning because I put my junior and senior year together. So I had no time to be messing around. I had to make this to make a future happen for me and my baby that was coming weeks after graduation. He started to say I was cheating, calling me names and fighting boys that talk to or even just stared at me.

Five months into the relationship, I started to ignore him. But I always ended up giving in. He moved in with me and ended up beating me but I always made sure to protect my belly. The relationship went on like this for months. Finally after months on, off and on and being beat and accused, I went into labor and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. A week after giving birth, I left my ex and gave up trying to hold on to what pulled me to a point where I became nothing.

A month passed then he came to my house drunk one night, punched my window and he had a gun. I called the police, they came and that’s when I realized I needed a TRO to protect me and my son. I talked to my family they helped me get myself together. I ended up going to court 4 times in a row; he showed up for none. I got sole physical and legal custody of my son.

My advice to teens out there is that you can’t change someone that does not want to change themselves; you can only save yourself in that case. Always keep your standards high, goals in reach and know you are worth the world.

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