By Quasona Cobb, See the Triumph Contributor
My name is Quasona Cobb, I am 24 years old and I am a teen dating violence survivor. I spent nearly four years in a tumultuous relationship and believed that I was the cause and the cure of everything that went wrong in the relationship. While physical violence was not always present, the threat of violence was there. At times I felt like I was skating on thin ice not knowing when my ex-boyfriend would lash out.
Just days before the 2011 new year I ended the relationship and that night I literally found myself in a fight for my life. The next morning my best friend came to my apartment to help me pack up a few things and I broke my silence to my family. A few days after that, the same person that tried to end my life decided they would retaliate by brutally attacking my mother.
As my mother began a slow recovery, I started to do my research on intimate partner violence and was shocked by my findings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report in 2010 stating, “1 in 4 women will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime and of that group, 1 in 5 will first experience it between the ages of 11 and 17.” I decided that our tragedy would not be in vain.
I have participated in major magazine campaigns against dating violence, conferences, panels, walks, daytime tv shows, documentaries and a number of other awareness projects. In sharing my story I am asked a bunch of questions pertaining to my survivors perspective and my opinion about teen dating violence. There are six common questions that I am asked whether I am conducting an interview about relationship abuse or sitting on a panel. Below are the questions and my response.
Were there any obvious signs that he was abusive?
An abuser is not going to walk up to you and tell you that they are controlling, manipulative, and will cause you harm. Those characteristics come out later in the relationship. I met my ex-boyfriend when I was a junior in high school. He was attractive, charming, came from a family of accomplished people and he was very attentive to me. To a seventeen year old girl with her first real boyfriend, I thought that I found a great catch.
Did you ever confide in someone about the abuse? If so, then whom?
The only two people that I felt comfortable talking to about the abuse with was my best friend and one of my younger sisters. I spoke to my friend about the incidents of abuse, seeking her opinion. She always urged me to leave my ex-boyfriend. The only reason that I ever mentioned anything to my younger sister was to let her know if anything ever happened to me, he would be the person responsible.
Did you ever report the abuse to the authorities?
No, I never reported him to the police until the day that I actually left the relationship. I was too afraid to start up trouble with him and the police. I knew of incidents where the abusers come back angrier and will do more harm after filing police reports.
Why didn’t you tell anyone in your family?
I come from a line of strong and assertive women, and I believed that the label victim meant you are weak or less than. The fear of losing my life kept me silent. Self-blame, insecurities, and shame kept me silent. Not knowing if friends and relatives would look down on me if they knew of my status as a victim of relationship abuse kept me silent.
The violence in the relationship not only affected you but also made an impact on your family. Have you ever experienced any guilt?
My mom ended up critically injured by my ex-boyfriend, not only did I feel guilty, I was hurt and angry. My mom was intervening to help me and he took his frustration and anger out on her. Through therapy I learned how to let go of the self-blame. My ex-boyfriend is the only person responsible for his actions.
After experiencing dating violence, have you dated again?
The idea of dating was the furthest thing from my mind after leaving a violent relationship. I was very cautious with dating but I was more open to letting my family and friends into my dating life; I needed second, third and fourth opinions. I am in a new relationship and I have been for quite some time now. I feel safe and secure because we have communication and boundaries, two essential elements of a healthy relationship.
Most of the workshops that I participate in are led by social workers and teen dating violence agencies. Their main objective is to hear from the survivors of dating violence so that they can design a program to reach out and better assist victims of violence. I use all aspects of my personal experience with dating violence to discuss the trauma, healing process, and the violence in the relationship in hopes to demystify the secrets of intimate partner violence.