Survivor Spotlight: Elizabeth

Elizabeth met her first boyfriend when she was 15. Two years older than her, he played on the high school football team.

“He seemed to be the perfect guy,” Elizabeth said. “He told me I was beautiful and showered me with attention. It was the first time I ever felt truly special.”

Two months into the relationship, Elizabeth noticed that things started to change. Her boyfriend’s moods would shift dramatically and unpredictably, and he soon became jealous and controlling of her. When Elizabeth came home from school one day, he began yelling at her and threw a large radio at her head. He convinced Elizabeth that the abuse was her fault; accepting blame for his violent behavior became a familiar pattern in their relationship.

“[He told me] I was the one who made him angry. I couldn’t be trusted, I wasn’t good enough,” Elizabeth said. “I believed every word he said.”

When Elizabeth was 16, her mother found out about the abuse and called the police; Elizabeth filed for a protective order and criminal assault charges were brought against him. Two months later, he broke into her house and beat and raped her. “He told me he loved me even as I fought to get away,” Elizabeth said. “I finally realized this wasn’t love, this was hate. I knew it was a violent cycle and yet I felt powerless to stop it.”

After the assault, Elizabeth went to the hospital and contacted the police. The case eventually went to trial and her assailant was convicted of trespassing and assault. However, Elizabeth then faced bullying from her high school peers who believed she was lying about being raped. She moved in with her grandmother in another city to finish high school, and it was then she began to heal from her experience.

Elizabeth believes the best way to combat teen dating violence like the kind she experienced is to stop the behavior before it begins. She encourages parents to talk to their teens about what healthy, respectful relationships look like and help them recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, such as extreme jealousy or causing physical harm.

Elizabeth urges any teens who may be in an abusive relationship to talk to a trusted adult about what’s happening. She also encourages them be kind to themselves through the healing process and report the crime if they feel safe to do so.

“As teens we believe that we are invincible --- until suddenly we’re not,” Elizabeth said. “Find someone you trust and talk to them. Allow yourself the space and time you need to recover. Remind yourself that you are strong, beautiful and worth it, because you are.”

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Learn more and get help from Love is Respect.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and, y en español: