Teen dating violence: when love turns deadly
Reporter: Corinne Hautala
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -- Teen dating violence nearly took the life of a Tucson teen and did take the life of another.
An 18-year old Tucson woman sat down with 9OYS to talk about her experience in an abusive relationship. Still too fearful of her ex-boyfriend, she didn’t want to be identified, but wanted to share her story.
“He'd hit me in the face,” she said frankly. “He would like hit me in the stomach. He would kick me.”
The Tucson teen was 15-years old when she got into an abusive relationship.
She said that initially he was “really sweet,” but about 6-months into the relationship he began controlling her and then the physical abuse began.
“He would slap me across the face with text books. He would drag me by my hair across the floor. He would just beat me up,” she told 9OYS.
She admits she was embarrassed by the abuse and thought it was her fault. She didn’t tell anyone and hid the bruises from he mother.
”I thought I was the only one,” she said about her fear to tell anyone.
Stephanie Noriega with Emerge! Center against Domestic Violence said teen dating abuse is much more prevalent than most people, especially parents, realize.
The Centers for Disease Control reports one in 11 teens report being a victim of physical dating violence each year, and 54 percent of high school students report dating violence among their peers.
“I think young people are still very much trying to figure it out,” said Noreiga, “And they're not sure about appropriate boundaries.”
According to loveisrespect.org, only 33 percent of teens who were in a violent relationship told someone about the abuse. It also reports, 81 percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit that don’t know it is an issue.
“Parents aren't necessarily the first place children go to talk about their issues,” said Noreiga, “So I think there is a shortage of resources or having safe people to talk to when they have the feelings that something’s not right.”
Bobbi Sudberry’s daughter was 17-years old when she was shot and killed by an ex-boyfriend.
“In the beginning, he seemed very nice and polite, and cordial and dedicated to her,” Sudberry describers her daughter, Kaity’s, ex-boyfriend.
Kaity Sudberry was born in Tucson, but soon after moved to Phoenix. Her mother said they were a close loving family, but even she didn’t realize immediately that her daughter was in an unhealthy relationship.
It was Kaity’s younger sister who brought the abuse to Sudberry’s attention.
She said she immediately went into protection mode. Kaity broke up with her boyfriend, but Sudberry said the abuse continued and he started to stalk her.
Sudberry recalls the day that it all came to a deadly end.
“She had just gotten home from school and he had a shotgun and a duffle bag. He shot her point blank and then he killed himself, so she is the victim of teen dating violence in the worst imaginable way.”
Kaity would be 21-year old, today.
In response to what happened to their family Sudberry created Kaity’s Way.
“What we're trying to do is make it so parents don't feel the grief and pain that we feel everyday,” she said.
Sudberry is an advocate against teen dating violence. She shares her story with students at schools across the state and discusses the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships. She’s also working with lawmakers to better protect victims of teen dating violence.
The national hotline for victims of dating violence is 1-866-331-9474. Victims can also chat online and get other resources at Loveisrespect.org.