By Stephanie Quinn, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Note from See the Triumph: As part of our series this month on Intimate Partner Violence, Stigma, and the Media, this week we’re featuring a series of reviews of books and films that address the topic of domestic violence. In this series, guest blogger Stephanie Quinn shares insights about how these resources depict the issue, as well as resources for learning more.
Dreamland is a young adult novel by Sarah Dessen that tells the story of Caitlin, a high school student who is trying to live up to her perfect older sister. At first, the story is predictable. In attempts to be different from her sister, she takes up activities at school that her sister was not involved in and starts dating a boy that her parents do not like. However, these small acts of rebellion continue to grow as Caitlin hides more pieces of her relationship from her parents- her boyfriend’s drug use, how he will not allow her to see her friends, and her declining grades from spending too much time with him.
Caitlin is initially flattered by this attention and believes that the closer he holds onto her, the more he loves her. However, his controlling behaviors begin to frighten Caitlin as they become more emotionally abusive. Soon, Caitlin’s fears are further confirmed when he begins to physically abuse her. Sadly, teen-dating violence is a prevalent problem today. Women ages 16- 24 are three times as likely to be in violent relationships as women of other ages (Dating Violence). Young people are often happy to have someone who is so interested in them and have a difficult time differentiating what are appropriate behaviors in a new relationship. According to one survey, 36% of teens reported calling their partner 10 or more times in one hour to check up on them (Technology). This was a self-reported figure, which shows that many teens today may consider that this obsessive type of behavior demonstrates their love for their partner.
While teen dating violence can be very similar to other types of IPV, it can have some unique features as well. For example, this book showed how technology could impact violence. When Caitlin’s boyfriend called, he expected her to answer. Technology is becoming more and more a part of a teenager’s world, and some teens may experience digital abuse. Examples of this include: expecting one’s partner to always have their phones with them and respond, excessive or unwanted calls or messages through phone or social media, and sending pornographic images, videos, or messages. Technology gives the abuser increased access to the victim. Furthermore, digital abuse can be easier to hide from parents and teachers. To learn more about how to use social networks safely, visit http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/digital-abuse/social-networking-safety.
To hear stories from real teens about their experiences with teen dating violence, here is a link to videos from the Love is Not Abuse curriculum: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZDLL1j9LpK8tRJEgcTN6OBCCKjQSK1Nu
To buy Dreamland by Sarah Dessen: http://www.amazon.com/Dreamland-Sarah-Dessen/dp/0142401757
Stephanie Quinn is a second year masters student in Counseling and Educational Development at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Originally from Iowa, she moved to North Carolina to attend Elon University where she received her bachelor's degree in Human Service Studies. Specializing in couples and families, she is currently interning at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center this fall, where she works with families in the children's oncology and hematology unit.