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Group raises awareness about dating abuse

(Source: KSWO) (Source: KSWO)

DUNCAN, OK (KSWO) - February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and a local women's shelter held an event Tuesday night to raise awareness about domestic violence and the signs of an unhealthy relationship.

The speakers for the event, hosted by Women's Haven in Duncan, included domestic violence educators, along with the mother of a teenager who was stabbed to death after she broke up with her boyfriend.

Students from Comanche High School performed a skit to show how an unhealthy, abusive relationship could look. In the beginning, the relationship looked normal, but with time, the boyfriend became possessive and even abusive before the girl realized the relationship is unhealthy and chooses to break up. 

For these teens, they’re recreating what an unhealthy and violent relationship might look like, but for Angela Wiles, it was a reality for her daughter, Alyssa, who was just 14 when she was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

"She was our little girl who left this world way too soon, because of a boy who didn't know how to control his anger, because of a boy who thought that was the only answer," Wiles said.

During the event, Wiles spoke about her daughter hoping to raise awareness about abusive relationships and the possible signs. She told teens that a loving relationship has nothing to do with power and control over another person. 

"He went from controlling and manipulative to coming in and killing her, there was no in between," Wiles said.

Women's Haven's Education Director Amie Booth said many people think of adults when talking about abusive relationships, but violent behavior usually starts in relationships between the 6th and 12th grade.

"You don't think that teenagers or parents even feel like that's a danger for their teenager but again, Alyssa Wiles was 14 when she was murdered and certainly didn't suspect that something like that was going to happen," Booth said.

Booth said only one-third of teens in an abusive relationship tell anyone that it's happening.

"I don't know if that's because they don't feel safe confiding in someone else or they just don't know that that's something they need to talk about," she said.

Wiles hoped that by speaking to teenagers about dating violence, they would not know only recognize the warning signs, but know when to speak up.

"I want them to grasp that she was a kid, just like them sitting in the audience and I want them to grasp that she was my daughter and that their mom could be up there telling the same story that I'm having to tell if they don't become aware of what they're doing and really wake up and realize that relationships are adult issues and sometimes we're not ready to enter them," Wiles said.

The event's organizers also hoped that spreading awareness about teen dating violence will help encourage discussion on the issue between parents and teens. 

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