BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Two young victims of dating violence want everyone to hear their stories. They're encouraging women to get the help they need if they are in an abusive relationship.
The Violence Against Women Act passed the House of Representatives on Thursday, authorizing more than $650 million for domestic and dating violence programs. Young victims in WNY are speaking out about domestic violence in hopes they can bring an end to a vicious cycle for others.
Abby is a high school senior, and it is difficult for her to talk about her experiences. She began dating her ex-boyfriend during her freshman year. He hit her and also emotionally abused the young teen.
"I couldn't really talk about it. It was really hard and I went through a lot with the ex-boyfriend," Abby said.
She says she felt trapped and didn't know what to do.
"I think about how weak I was and how I wasn't smart enough at the point to realize I shouldn't be going through this. I'm really just disappointed in myself."
But Abby finally got out of her abusive relationship.
"He went to jail for some bad things and that was the breaking point for me where I could move on," Abby said.
Abby was just one of nine teenagers who shared their stories Thursday at a first-of-its-kind Teen Dating Violence Prevention discussion. U.S. Attorney William Hochul held the event at Canisius College.
"Teen dating violence is common. I've seen studies that show one out of three teens experience some kind of violent episode," Hochul said.
Family Justice Center Executive Director Mary Murphy says there are warning signs. Constant controlling text messaging, jealousy, and moving to quickly are all red flags. Murphy says the abuse is also starting at an even younger age.
"Absolutely they are starting younger and younger and they are learning a lot of these behaviors at home where daddy or boyfriend is abusing mom," Murphy said.
Seventeen-year-old Samantha is still struggling to get over an abusive relationship. But she's speaking out in the hopes of empowering other teens who might be going through the same thing.
"I feel like if I'm speaking out he knows...'Hey, she's got courage, she's got strength and maybe this time she's going to go.' But I am scared," Samantha said.
She is still scared when she thinks about her old relationship, but she wanted to show her face as a sign that she's strong and is moving on.
If you know anyone who's in an abusive relationship and needs help, call the Family Justice Center at 716-558-7233.
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