Teen Dating Violence Survivor Speaks Out - myfoxcarolinas.com

Teen Dating Violence Survivor Speaks Out

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Juliana Lozano survived an abusive relationship and is using her experience to reach out to other teenagers who may be in similar situations.

Lozano was with her boyfriend for almost five years, since she was 17 years old. She said the relationship was good at first, but then he started calling constantly, criticizing her wardrobe and becoming jealous of her friends and family.

She said she just rationalized the abuse away.

“Me, because maybe I was naive, I thought ‘well, maybe he cares that’s why he keeps calling to check on me. He doesn’t like what I’m wearing, maybe it is too provocative. He’s just doing it because he cares.”

Mental and emotional abuse soon turned physical. Lozano endured it for years, sticking by him by she thought she was in love.

She stayed in the relationship until she gave birth to her son. When he was infant, Lozano’s boyfriend keyed her face with his car keys on front of the baby.

"My son doesn’t deserve to grow up seeing that. No one deserves to live like that first of all, but he doesn’t deserve to grow up seeing that type of behavior."

Now, Lozano is working on her master’s degree in social work and volunteers regularly with the Love is Respect Campaign, where she shares her story and helps other teens out of abusive relationships.

February is teen dating violence awareness month. Mecklenburg County and the Women’s Commission are using this week to promote their Love is Respect campaign and are reaching out to teens through a series of events to bring awareness to the issue.

Today is Wear Orange Day, one of the several events the campaign will hold this week.

Melissa Siegal works with the Women’s Commission and is heading up the campaign. She says often, teens won’t see the signs of an abusive relationship right away. She, along with volunteers, go into schools, churches and youth organizations to make sure they recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship.

"They really start to think about wow, I'm seeing all of this going on and I just really never had the words or the phrases to really identify what it was,” she said.

Siegal said a red flag of an abusive relationship teens should look for is when a partner tries to isolate the other from their friends and family.

"Abusers will say things like your friends are a bad influence on you, or I’m the only one that cares about you so that can be a really big warning sign that they are trying to isolate them from everyone they know so they can’t get out of that relationship."

Social media isn’t making things easier for teens. Along with peer bullying, online emotional and mental abuse between couples can occur easily.

"We see the check ins on Facebook being used to track the person that they’re dating and find out where they are, they may constantly checking their Facebook or their Twitter or their Instagram to see who they’re hanging out with what they’re doing and then using that against them."

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