Suffering in Silence

Abuse, Domestic Violence, Facing Teen Violence in Muncie, Indiana, Teen Pregnancy

Alicia’s Story as told by Brianna Thompson

I’m what you might call a second-hand victim of domestic violence. No, I haven’t personally experienced physical or emotional abuse, but one of my friends has. And her injuries and ongoing problems continue to affect my life because I care about what happens to her and her young daughter.

I first met Alicia when we were both students at Northside Middle School in Muncie. A mutual friend introduced us, and the three of us enjoyed hanging out, watching basketball games on TV and eating at Applebee’s. You could say we were pretty normal teenagers. But later, when we were students at Muncie Central High School, life changed for Alicia.

She started dating an older guy from Indianapolis, and they got serious very fast. They dated for several years. In her senior year, she got pregnant and had a baby daughter. Then right after graduation in 2011, she left Indiana for Texas, where she lived with her boyfriend and his family.

We didn’t know it then, but she had been in an abusive relationship almost from the start. Her boyfriend was always jealous, not only of other guys but even when Alicia would hang out with my friend and me. He would try to control what clothes she wore. He said things to make her feel bad about herself like: “You’ll be a terrible mother.” He was always cursing at her.

Alicia returned to Muncie a couple years ago, and that’s when I learned that the abuse had progressed to physical violence. We both worked for the same daycare facility in Muncie. One day she told me that her boyfriend had hit her in the face, bloodying her nose. Another day she showed up at work with a black eye.

I couldn’t understand why she continued to have him in her life, especially when she admitted that she was scared of him. She also said she had stopped loving him long ago. But she “put up with him” because she needed him to help care for her daughter.

My friend and I tried to get her to see how he was manipulating her. We told her to get a restraining order. She acted like she wasn’t going to put up with his behavior, but then we’d hear another story—like the time six months ago when he busted up her apartment, putting holes in the walls and breaking her TV.

“It’s so frustrating because she knows she’s in a dangerous situation. I’m afraid for her and her daughter.”

And the sad thing is that Alicia is not the only one from my high school who was in an abusive dating relationship. Too many girls are. Too many of them stay with their abusers.

When I’m asked what I can do to help other young women be empowered, I tell them to watch for the warning signs early in a relationship. If the guy is possessive, controlling or jealous. If the guy says negative things to you and then tries to say he was only joking. If he pushes you or does anything physically that makes you feel uncomfortable. These are the warning signs.

You need to make sure that anyone you’re involved with is a positive influence in your life. And if you have any concerns at all, you need to tell somebody. Don’t suffer in silence.

This story originally appeared in Facing Teen Dating Violence, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by A Better Way in Muncie, Indiana.

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