ROCKVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) — Most parents do not think teen dating violence is a big problem, according to Montgomery County.
However, the Centers for Disease Control reported nearly 1.5-million high school students from across the country experience dating violence every year.
If a picture was worth one thousand words, a photo of Hannah Reid’s smile could write a novel because a few years ago her joy was hard to come by.
“I would go to the bathroom during class and just cry because I didn’t know what to do,” Reid told WUSA9. “I felt like I was trapped.”
Reid was in an abusive relationship that she said started off loving and caring but quickly changed.
“Checking my phone constantly, telling me what to wear, and what kind of outfits made me look bad,” Reid recalled.
Reid was a teenager in high school when the emotional and mental abuse spiraled into physical and sexual violence.
“I was insecure,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I had anyone. I felt like this was the only thing I had to come home to.”
Reid is not alone.
Montgomery County held its ‘Choose Respect Conference’ in Rockville on Sunday after learning one in three young people suffer some sort of dating violence.
“Whether it’s sexual, financial, emotional, physical,” Debbie Feinstein, who works with the Special Victims Division of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, said.
This is the event’s ninth year, and Feinstein said the goal of the conference is to arm students and parents with the tools they need to spot what healthy relationships look like and the signs of abuse.
“Because parents need to realize, A, this is happening and, B, need to know how to speak to their kids about this important issue,” Feinstein explained.
The importance of teen dating violence was a reason why survivors like Reid made it a point to share their stories with the teens who’s shoes they once filled
“I had to hear so many stories and so many testimonies in order for me to leave,” Reid said. “I had to hear people say it is okay to leave.”