As part of our 15th anniversary celebrations, we will be featuring a series of guest posts throughout the year on the topic “What Day One Means to Me.”
by Katie S.
Twenty years ago, my high school boyfriend turned violent for the first time. During an intense argument, he shoved me to the ground and drove off.
At the time, I felt like the push came out of nowhere. But now, after volunteering with Day One and attending their workshops, I know the classic warning signs were there.
No one asks you out on a first date and says “I am going to hit you in six months.” Abusive relationships start the exact same way healthy relationships start. Puppy love. Sweet moments. Flowers, stolen kisses, long phone calls and hand holding.
Abuse builds slowly. It typically starts with jealousy that turns extreme and builds from there. My story is no exception. On one of the hottest days of the school year, he told me my shorts were too short and that I was not allowed to wear shorts anymore.
If I went to a friend’s house for a sleepover or went to a party without him, I would receive threatening, screaming phone calls filled with verbal assaults on my character. He started to tell me my friends were bad influences, and I must stop seeing them.
He bought me a pager. He wanted to be the only one with the number. When my friend paged me while I was at his house, he threw me out and locked the door. If I didn’t return a page within minutes, he would be angry for days and make public, berating comments towards me.
By the time he laid his hands on me, I should’ve known. But no one in my life had ever explained what the pattern of abuse looks like. I thought abusive relationships happened in movies or different neighborhoods. My school had no programs about healthy relationships. Even the school psychologist didn’t know what to do with me.
Today, thanks to Day One, many youth in NYC now have the tools to keep themselves and others in healthy relationships. They have education, they have an understanding and they have a support system.
Day One’s workshops and programs have worked tirelessly to teach local students that love should always be safe.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about what I went through and wish there was an organization like Day One at my own high school.
Day One means love is safer for thousands of teenagers than it was for me. Thank you, Day One, for doing your part to stop the cycle of abuse.