This story is representative of survivors served in Florida’s certified domestic violence centers and does not depict a specific individual.
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I met Benny when I was 15 and he was 16. He was very good looking and many girls wanted to be his girlfriend. He never had many friends who were guys and he wasn't into sports. At first, he was really nice to me and always invited me over to his house after school. He really liked cars and had a place set up in his Dad's garage where he worked on a broken down car that his Uncle had given him. Most afternoons after school, I would get into trouble with my Mom because Benny made me stay with him while he worked on his car. When I told him that I had to leave, he told me that I wanted to rush home because I didn't care about him and that there were lots of girls who would want to hang around him.
After a few months, he didn't want me to do anything with my friends. He was possessive and jealous and would make fun of anyone who was my friend. He made me feel guilty if I even talked to someone at school, even when he wasn't around, which wasn't very often. He told me that he didn't like what I wore and told me what I should wear to school. He was always moody, but after a while it made me feel really uncomfortable. He forced me to have sex with him in his Dad's garage. I told him that I loved him, but that it didn't seem like he loved me. I was afraid I would get pregnant and told him that I wanted to wait. He slapped me and said never to say anything like that again. He told me that he would decide if I would get pregnant or not. I told him that wasn't the way it worked and he slapped me again, harder and twisted my arm behind my back. I was afraid to tell my Mom or anyone what happened, but I stopped going over to his house after school.
After almost every class, he would stand outside the doorway and grab my arm when I came out and whisper in my ear that I better listen to him or something bad was going to happen to me. I didn't know what to do and I tried to avoid him, but it seemed like he was always there waiting for me or watching me. He sent me text messages all day and all night long. Sometimes he pleaded with me not to break up with him. Sometimes he would send me threats or text me, "I know what you're doing right now."
One day a teacher saw him grab me and I guess I looked pretty shook up. She waited until he walked away and then motioned for me to come into her classroom. We walked into the back where she had a little office and she closed the door. I didn't even know her very well, but I started to cry. I couldn't help it. I said that nothing was wrong, but she just waited for me to stop crying and didn't ask me any questions. I said I had to go and I got up to leave. That's when she said words that I remembered ever since: "You don't deserve to be treated like that." I knew she was right, but I just couldn't see it before she said those words out loud.
It took me about two weeks before I had the courage to go back to talk to her again, this time after school when no one else was around. She said that I didn't have to be with Benny if I didn't want to and I said I knew that, but I didn't know how to get out. He said he was going to really hurt me. She explained to me some things called dating violence. She talked about some things that my Mom and I might want to think about. I knew I had to tell my Mom. When I did, she helped me understand what was going on. I threw away my cell phone and didn't get another one until after I had changed schools. I had to get away from Benny, and I'm glad I did. I don't ever want to have to worry about leaving class and having someone waiting for me. I am 17 now and will graduate from high school this year. I know now how different my life would have been right now if I had stayed around Benny.
These stories are representative of survivors served in Florida's domestic violence centers in the past and do not depict a specific individual.