Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Georgia ranks 3rd in the nation for the highest numbers of teen-reported cases of physical abuse in a relationship, VOX spent the spring semester covering dating violence. We wanted to share stories, like types of abuse, and resources for help — and also give voice to teens around metro Atlanta to speak up about this topic.
Here, students from Westlake High School share their opinions and experiences through writing and art.
By Nia Cole, 15
I wish teen peers knew that relationships in high school don’t always last. Many teen boys don’t realize girls’ worth, and you shouldn’t be sad if it doesn’t work out.
I also hope they know that if they’re being abused, tell someone. It’s not healthy to be abused or abuse someone else. A healthy relationship is loyalty.
By Jakobe Hill, 15
My definition of a healthy relationship is when both people in the relationship are as one. They don’t cheat, call each other out of name, argue much, and/or fight. They move as one in the relationship. As they move together, they motivate each other to do greater and achieve their life and career goals. Making future goals together can cause less stress in both of their lives, causing them to be happy most of the time.
By Danyan Cochran, 17
I think teens are talking about dating violence because it’s affecting their relationships and the relationships around them. It’s important because teens will be the ones raising families in just a few years. So teens witnessing dating violence have to take action for their future. Teens are also in abusive relationships, which is becoming a major problem. Teens get mad at each other and go to social media to vent and expose others. After a relationship they could post messages or pictures of the person they went out with, which could be embarrassing.
By Alexis, 16
People [who] use violence have either been around it their whole life or it was used on them. They then use it on others to feel like they have power over them.
By Briana Saunders, 16
The definition of having a healthy relationship is when you don’t have to question someone’s love or loyalty for you. You don’t have to worry about what they’re doing when you’re not around or worry about them hurting you. You both have a special connection where you and your partner have an understanding. You get married because you love each other and you want to spend the rest of your lives together. Of course, you’re going to have arguments or get mad at each other, but real love is when you both can overcome all differences and remember why you love each other. From the looks he/she gives you, the special date nights every once in awhile, when they call you just to tell you they love you, to all the little things that put a smile on your face — it’s all about love and truly connecting with that person.
By Esai, 16
I don’t hear anything about dating violence. I wish my peers know that they could break up with a person if they’re not happy.
By Kyle Clarke, 16
A healthy relationship is a relationship where both people in the relationship are being treated fairly and also both people are actually enjoying the relationship they are in. Also, if you are in a healthy relationship, you should be able to trust your partner.
By Courtland Sturgis, 16
A healthy relationship is two people having a good bond and not having arguments every day. Then again, relationships bring people closer in a way, if they don’t fight over little things.
By Ray Johnson, 14
My definition of a healthy relationship is one that’s mutually beneficial for both lovers. You also need communication to have a healthy relationship. If all else fails, you may need a person just to talk to and not judge you to have a healthy conversation.
By Danielle Zanders, 15
In order to have a healthy relationship, it has to be two mature people [who] actually want to work for what they want. If you aren’t mature enough, then of course it isn’t going to work out. You are also going to have ups and downs, but the question is do you stick around and work it out, or do you just give up on that person you want to have a future with? If the love you may have with that person is really real and genuine then you won’t want to give up on them. Sometimes in relationships people change and they may not be same person that you thought you loved or the person that you were in love with. It is hard to have to let go of something that you are attached to, but sometimes letting go could possibly be the best thing for you.
By Kalia Lewis, 16
A healthy relationship involves loyalty, communication and fun. You’re supposed to be able to trust those around you. [In] a relationship, whether friendly or romantic, you should be able to trust your significant other. This topic of violence is important because it is really happening. I wish my teen peers knew that there are more people willing to help rather than hurt. I wish my parents knew that this stuff is occurring more than they think.
By Jamaal Young, 16
What I think of a healthy relationship is that a healthy relationship doesn’t drag you down. It inspires you to do better. You gotta love your partner with a passion. You don’t have to lie to each other. A healthy relationship will never require you to lose your friends, your dreams, or your dignity. You are supposed to encourage them to do better. Good relationships don’t just happen — they take time, patience and two people who truly want to be together. Your partner is supposed to bring out the best in you. Nobody will be perfect, but he/she will always be perfect to you. For a healthy relationship, you need love without fear, trust without wondering, be there without restriction, and accept them without wanting to change them.
By Chanteria Huff, 17
I once had a cousin who was in an abusive relationship. They were together for a while, and sometimes when we would see her she would have scars and bruises. We would ask her where it came from but she would just brush it off and say it was nothing. But one day she and her boyfriend were [at] my house and they started fighting. I had never witnessed anything like that, a boyfriend and girlfriend fighting. But we didn’t realize they were fighting until we heard a bunch of noise in the living room. It was kinda obvious that something like this had happened between them before. My cousin was yelling trying to get him off of her, and then my big brother started choking him, but even then my cousin was begging him to let him go. That day was full of emotions and craziness if you ask me.
By Nakia Bullard, 17
A healthy relationship to me is a strong, long chain. Every circle is something different. Communication is the key to a relationship. You have to talk and work things out. Trust, faith and companionship. In my relationship we have all the keys. With him being in the military, it’s not easy. I cry all the time. I think about him; he is my world. When I first met him, he was on the streets. We talked every day, we grew stronger and stronger. Then that’s when trust came into play. The first time we felt that connection was when we cried in each other’s arms when he left for Job Corps. He was gone for eight months of our relationship. I felt so lonely, but I had to be the backbone for our relationship. We have been dating … [since] 10-12-14. He joined the military for three reasons: for a better way of living, to take care of me, and to make me proud. He put my name on all of his stuff next to his name. He means the world to me. Without the key term, we wouldn’t be here today.