May 10, 2011

They date, they abuse, they text, they kill: Messages a new silent weapon

The article found here (copied below):   states in the title that textual harassment is something new, but it isn't really.  If you read the article it cites cases going back a few years.  It is new only in the sense that before text messaging it was not possible.  Parents, please check on your teens texting!!  Teens, please know that if you are being harassed by someone you can find places to get help...your parents, teachers, friends even, and many places on line.  Love Is Respect is one of the best places to turn to.  There are others in the sites listed in the Dating Abuse Page here on this blog. 

Please read the article in full, yeah yeah I know it's long, but pay attention to the one thing they all had in one else knew.  The nature of texting allows this to be completely private and well hidden.  Do something about it now...before it's too late.  Don't think it can't be you or your kids, because it can!  I know many parents that feel that checking their kids phones is an invasion of privacy; well so is death at the hands of an abusive partner.  You can start by monitoring just the number of texts per day, week, month, etc....if you see a spike talk to your teen, ask what is going on.  Then, only if you feel the need to do so, do you have to actually read the messages.

By Donna St. George
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The text messages to the 22-year-old Virginia woman arrived day and night, sometimes 20 or 30 at once. Her ex-boyfriend wanted her back. He would not be refused. He texted or called 758 times.

In New York, a 17-year-old trying to break up with her boyfriend got fewer messages, but they were menacing. "You don't need nobody else but me," read one. Another threatened to kill her.

It is all part of what is increasingly called "textual harassment," a growing aspect of dating violence at a time when cell phones and unlimited texting plans are ubiquitous among the young. It can be insidious, because messages pop up at the sender's will: Where r u? Who r u with? Why didnt u answer me?

"It's gotten astonishingly worse in the last two years," said Jill Murray, who has written several books on dating violence and speaks on the topic nationally. Especially for those who have grown up in digital times, "it's part and parcel of every abusive dating relationship now."

The harassed often feel compelled to answer the messages, whether they are one-word insults or 3 a.m. demands. Texts arrive in class, at the dinner table, in movie theaters — 100 or more a day, for some.

Harassment is "just easier now, and it's even more persistent and constant, with no letting up," said Claire Kaplan, director of sexual and domestic violence services at the University of Virginia, which became the focus of national attention in May with the killing of lacrosse player Yeardley Love, 22.

Police have charged Love's ex-boyfriend, George Huguely, 22, with first-degree murder and allege he removed her computer from the crime scene as he fled. Huguely had sent Love angry e-mails, according to police, who have not released details.

Kacey Kirkland, a victim services specialist with the police department in Fairfax County, Va., has seen textual harassment in almost every form: threats, rumors, lies, late-night questions.

Love s former boyfriend allegedly called or texted her 758 times, insisting they get back together. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Love’s former boyfriend allegedly called or texted her 758 times, insisting they get back together. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)


"The advances in technology are assisting the perpetrators in harassing and stalking and threatening their victims," Kirkland said.

In the case involving the 22-year-old who received 758 messages from her ex-boyfriend, the harassment led to stalking charges and a protective order, Kirkland said.

Harassment by text is one facet of abusive relationships, which often involve contact in person, by phone, by e-mail and through Facebook or other social networking sites.

"What technology offers is irrefutable evidence of the abuse," said Cindy Southworth, founder of the Safety Net Project on technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

Siobhan Shev Russell was killed by her boyfriend 10 weeks after high school graduation. Her mother later found scores of text messages from the boy. (THE WASHINGTON POST)

Siobhan Shev Russell was killed by her boyfriend 10 weeks after high school graduation. Her mother later found scores of text messages from the boy. (THE WASHINGTON POST)

Lynne Russell said the privacy of text messaging helped obscure the danger facing her daughter, Siobhan "Shev" Russell. The 19-year-old from Oak Hill, Va., was killed by her boyfriend in April 2009, 10 weeks after delivering a graduation speech at Mountain View Alternative High School.

Later, Russell and her husband found scores of texts, some disturbing, from the boy, now 18.

"I don't think she recognized the warning signs, and we didn't see the signs until it was too late," said Russell, who plans a dating-violence awareness campaign for the fall.

A federal survey released this month showed one in 10 high school students nationally reported being hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend during the previous year. Such surveys do not show rising violence, but the texting culture has changed the experience.

Kristin Mitchell, 21, got a text message from her boyfriend asking why Kristin had gone to her goddamned class rather than spend time with him, among others. She was killed three weeks after her graduation from college.

One woman in her 20s was so closely tracked that her partner insisted she text him photos — each with a clock displaying the time — to prove her whereabouts, said Hannah Sassoon, head of the domestic violence response team in Montgomery County, Md.

In the past several years, about a dozen states have passed or are considering laws to bring dating violence education into schools.

The legislative push comes partly from parents such as Gary Cuccia, a Pennsylvania father whose daughter, Demi Brae, was killed a day after her 16th birthday in 2007. Cuccia said Demi had broken up with her teen-age boyfriend.

Cuccia would later learn that the ex-boyfriend had texted Demi again and again, saying such things as, "You know you can't live without me." After Demi finally agreed to see him, the boy came to her home when she was alone and stabbed her 16 times.

Her father said the largely private nature of texting is an important factor.

"When I was growing up, we had one phone in the whole house, and if you were fighting with your girlfriend, everybody knew about it," Cuccia said.

Last year, Maryland passed a bill to encourage — not require — school districts to teach the topic. It was less than what Bill and Michele Mitchell, who lost their daughter, Kristin, to dating violence in 2005, wanted. But it was a start, and the couple, from Ellicott City, Md., say they will continue to push.

Kristin, 21, graduated from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia three weeks before her death. Just hours before she was killed, she had texted her boyfriend, "you are being ridiculous why cant I do something with my friends."

Bill Mitchell later learned the boyfriend had sent texts such as the one asking why Kristin had gone to her "goddamned class" rather than spend time with him. Mitchell said he hopes more young people will begin to see warning signs where his family did not.

"Text messaging, in the wrong hands, has to be about the worst thing that's come along when we're talking about dating violence and controlling personalities," Mitchell said.

A recent survey by the Associated Press and MTV shows that nearly one in four respondents ages 14 to 24 reported that partners check in multiple times a day to see where they are or who they are with, and more than one in 10 said partners demanded passwords.

One challenge is that many youths do not view excessive texting as a problem. "If you're getting 50 messages an hour and you want 50 messages an hour, that's not a problem," said Marjorie Gilberg, executive director of Break the Cycle, which works to end dating violence. "But if you're getting 50 messages an hour and you don't even want one, that's very different."

Such topics are addressed through a teen help line called Love Is Respect and several national awareness campaigns, including MTV's effort on digital abuse, A Thin Line, a joint effort on digital dating abuse called That's Not Cool and the initiative Love is Not Abuse.

Murray, the author, said her cases have included a 16-year-old whose ex-boyfriend paid four friends to help him text when he was asleep or at work: "It was like psychological torture."

Murray urges parents to check on how many messages their children get, at what hour and from whom. "Parents don't know this is going on whatsoever," she said.

No comments:

Post a Comment